Ephemeral Beauty: Al Parker and the American Women's Magazine

November 16, 2007 - January 28, 2008
Kemper Art Museum, College of Art Gallery


Ephemeral Beauty: Al Parker and the American Womens Magazine, 1940-1960 displays the work of this accomplished illustrator and contributor to the American aesthetic of the mid-twentieth century. Parker, a St. Louis native and graduate of the St. Louis School of Fine Arts at Washington University, is best known for creating illustrations for women's magazines in the post-war era.

Magazines were extremely significant to popular visual culture in an age before television, and Parker and his contemporaries enjoyed a large audience for their work. Parker's illustrations fostered connections between the magazines he worked with and the women reading them by including elements evoking middle- and upper-class suburban lifestyles of that era and creating a tangiel, visual representation of a specific feminine ideal. The signature of Parker's work was his ability to adapt to innovations in visual culture and push the boundaries of illustration by incorporating influences from photography and film.

In the Museum's College of Art Gallery from November 16, 2007 to January 28, 2008, Ephemeral Beauty was organized by Stephanie Plunkett, curator at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA, with D. B. Dowd, professor of visual communications in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University.