Friday, February 19, 2010

Luna Park

From the Publisher's Afterword to The Great Gatsby:
Maxwell Perkins, who embodied both the voice and literary conscience of Scribners, was clearly elated. His great expectations--and--equal impatience--for the delivery of Fitzgeralds' new novel prompted Perkins immediately to commission (seven months in advance of the finished manuscript, as it would turn out) a full-color, illustrated dust jacket to be held in readiness for the new book.

The artist chosen was the Spanish-born Francis Cugat, who had designed posters and movie sets in New York before he became an art designer in Hollywood for Douglas Fairbanks. His painting... is the most celebrated--and widely disseminated--jacket art in twentieth-century American literature. Like the novel it embellishes, this Art Deco tour de force has firmly established itself as a classic. At the same time, it represents a unique form of "collaboration" between author and jacket artist. Under normal circumstances, the artist illustrates a scene or motif conceived by the author; he lifts, as it were, his image from a page of the book. In this instance, however, the artist's image preceded the finished manuscript and Fitzgerald actually maintained that he had "written it into" his book.

Now that's what I call city planning!

(Hi Louis.)

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