From the SPD Archives: Leo Lionni at SPD Gala 28, 1993

From the SPD Archives: Leo Lionni at SPD Gala 28, 1993 SPD50.jpgThe undisputed star of the 28th SPD Gala, held on May 7, 1993 in the Celeste Bartos Forum of the New York Public Libary, was art director/artist/book author Leo Lionni, who received the Society's Herb Lubalin Award for continuing design excellence. Lionni made his mark in the 1950s as the groundbreaking art director of Fortune magazine, design director of Olivetti, editor of Print, and later as a noted children's book author and illustrator. The award was presented to Lionni by former Esquire and Show art director Henry Wolf, who received the award himself in 1988.

The Herb Lubalin Award was given annually by SPD from 1983-1993, and several times after, to "acknowledge continuing excellence in publication design." It was last given to longtime Playboy art director Art Paul in 2006.

Pictured above at the Gala is then-SPD President Walter Bernard of WBMG, Leo Lionni, and Henry Wolf. Photograph by John Ashworth.

On the turn page we've got another photo, comments from Walter Bernard on the evening, and copies of the front and back of the 28th Gala program.

lionni.jpeg(Left-right): SPD board member Fo Wilson, Leo Lionni, SPD treasurer Karen Bloom, Nora Lionni. Photograph by John Ashworth.

Walter Bernard: I believe I first met Leo Lionni that evening. When I first redesigned Fortune in 1982 I studied the history of the magazine and was fascinated by Leonni's  work, especially his covers. He also redesigned the logo twice, I believe, which I thought gave me permission to change it still again.

I do remember being aware as the picture was taken that I was standing with two of the most celebrated art directors of their time. Lionni was well-known not only as art director of Fortune (1948-60), but also for his many popular children's books.  Wolf was art director of Esquire (1952-58), then succeeded Alexey Brodovitch at Harper's Bazaar in 1958. In 1961 he left Bazaar to start Show magazine, a beautiful but short-lived progressive arts and culture magazine.

It was a privilege to be in their company at that SPD event.

Walter Bernard is the former art director of Time and a former President of SPD. As a partner with Milton Glaser in WBMG he redesigned Fortune and many other magazines. He continues to art direct and consult on a wide variety of projects.



Lionni back cover.JPGThe back cover of the Gala program was a reproduction of the Lionni-designed Fortune cover from February 1960.

Lionni front cover.JPGThe front cover of the Gala program was an homage to Lionni's New York Fortune cover.

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From the SPD Archives: Weekly Newsmagazine Art Directors, Early 1990s
From the SPD Archives: The SPD Gala 22, 1987




  • Bruce Ramsay

    It really must be mentioned that the co-hosts of that wonderfully conceived Gala Awards evening were none other than B.W. Honeycutt and Rhonda Rubinstein. The Gala's program design was Rhonda's salute to the legendary Lionni.

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