Artist Neysa McMein

I discovered Neysa McMein through Harpo Marx’s autobiography “Harpo Speaks” and I looked up her artwork. I’ve seen her art plenty of times by reading and collecting 20’s and 30’s magazines but never knew the artist. She was also a member of the famed Algonquin Round Table.

She sold millions of magazines with her covers for McCall’s, Saturday Evening Post, Collier’s, McClure’s, Woman’s Home Companion, Photoplay, Liberty, Associated Sunday Magazine, Ladies World. Ad work: memorably for Palmolive; also Cadillac, Lucky Strike, Adam’s Gum, Coke, Hummingbird Hosiery, Gainsborough Hair Nets, Colgate.

She painted portraits of two sitting presidents, Warren G. Harding, and Herbert Hoover.

She also created the first Betty Crocker and updated her through the years.

 

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Neysa marching in 1917 in a Suffrage Parade.

Harpo Marx said this about Neysa: The biggest love affair in New York City was between me—along with two dozen other guys—and Neysa McMein. Like me, Neysa was an unliterary, semi-illiterate gate-crasher at the Algonquin. But unlike me, she was beautiful and bursting with talk and talent. A lot of us agreed she was the sexiest gal in town. Everybody agreed she was the best portrait and cover artist of the times.

She taught Harpo Marx how to paint and according to Harpo she only had one failing as a teacher: Neysa had one failing as an art instructor. It was, as far as I knew, her only failing, period. That was her passion for fires. If a siren or bell should sound during one of our late-night seminars, that was the end of the seminar. Neysa was such a fire buff that she once dashed to Penn Station and jumped on a train when she heard there was a four-alarm fire burning in Philadelphia.

The Harpo quotes are from his autobiography “Harpo Speaks.”

Neysa died in 1949 and was inducted into the Society of Illustrators’ Hall of Fame in 1984.

To see more of her artwork check out this from Pinterest. 

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Paintings and Artists that I like

Painting is something I could never do. I would be lucky to paint stick figures. Like music, it is a great form of expression. If I were an artist I would do pop art paintings and…black light poster art… I would be a very poor artist because the demand for those styles in 2018 would be close to non existent to say the least.

I do get into Art a bit. I’m not an expert nor will I ever be…I like what I like….A friend I have is a great artist and over the years I’ve learned things from him. The art styles that I like the most are Pop Art, Expressionism, and Surrealism… Some of the artists I like are Andy Warhol, Peter Max, Edvard Munch and Salvador Dali. I cannot tell you about their technical skills…which yes they all had but it was the feel or soul they all  had in their paintings. The way Warhol could make some simple advertisement into art. The way Peter Max can take you places by just looking at his work. Salvador Dali taking you places where you may not want to go but enjoy it all the same.

Andy Warhol

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Peter Max

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Edvard Munch

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Salvador Dali

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I also like some vintage commercial art. The art that hung in business offices across the land. A company call Marushka had many that I liked. Art for mass consumption is looked down upon at times but there are many prints that I like from them in the 70s and 80s. Below is one of them

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I also like black light and some think it’s lowbrow but I don’t care. What imaginations artists had when they painted them…sober or otherwise.

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I can also say that my taste in art is the same as in music…having feeling or soul is the reason I never got into progressive rock bands….I could care less if you know every chord in the book and are technically advanced…if music doesn’t have soul…I want nothing to do with it. Just because you can play fast or do guitar gymnastics doesn’t mean anything without soul. Some music I do think is art. A Day in the Life, Bohemian Rhapsody, Overnight Sensation and others.