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June 14, 2024

Impressive Illustration by Miguel Covarrubias in the 1920s and ’30s

Miguel Covarrubias (1904—1957) was a Mexican painter, caricaturist, illustrator, ethnologist and art historian. Along with his American colleague Matthew W. Stirling, he was the co-discoverer of the Olmec civilization.

Illustration by Miguel Covarrubias in the 1920s and ’30s

A man of many talents, Covarrubias also began to design sets and costumes for the theater including Caroline Dudley Reagan’s La Revue Negre starring Josephine Baker in the show that made her a smash in Paris. Other shows included Androcles and the Lion, The Four Over Thebes, and the Garrick Gaities’ Rancho Mexicano number for dancer and choreographer Rosa Rolando.

Covarrubias’s artwork and celebrity caricatures have been featured in The New Yorker and Vanity Fair magazines. The linear nature of his drawing style was highly influential to other caricaturists such as Al Hirschfeld. Covarrubias’s first book of caricatures The Prince of Wales and Other Famous Americans was a hit, though not all his subjects were thrilled that his sharp, pointed wit was aimed at them.

Covarrubias collaborated with Austrian Artist Wolfgang Paalen’s journal Dyn from 1942 to 1944. Additionally, his advertising, painting, and illustration work brought him international recognition including gallery shows in Europe, Mexico, and the United States as well as awards such as the 1929 National Art Directors’ Medal for painting in color for his work on a Steinway & Sons piano advertisement.

Covarrubias’ style was highly influential in America, especially in the 1920s and 1930s, and his artwork and caricatures of influential politicians and artists were featured on the covers of The New Yorker and Vanity Fair.

Here below are some of his work in the 1920s and 1930s.

Portrait of a Man, circa 1925

Portrait of Somerset Maugham, circa 1925

Woman With Basket, 1926-27

At Leroy's, 1927

Life magazine, July 19, 1928

Life magazine, July 26, 1928

‘George Gershwin, an American in Paris’, 1929

Chandler Christy and Pablo Picasso from the Vanity Fair, circa 1930

Cover of Vanity Fair, May 1930

His Mind Clean of all Thought, circa 1930

Mexican Street Scene, circa 1930

Portrait of Alexander Brook, circa 1930

Rumba, circa 1930

The Weary Blues by Langston Hughes, 1931

Clark Gable and Edward, Prince of Wales, Vanity Fair, November 1932

Every Night is Festival Night, circa 1932

Greta Garbo, Vanity Fair, February 1932

Mae West and Marie of Romania, "Impossible Interviews", Vanity Fair, June 1932

Ernest Hemingway, circa 1933

Rockefeller Discovering the Rivera Murals, 1933

The Tree of Modern Art, 1933

The Wailing Wall of Gold, Vanity Fair, June 1933

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Vanity Fair, November 1934

Josef Stalin, 1934

Richard E. Byrd from from the Vanity Fair, 1934

Sally Rand and Martha Graham, Vanity Fair, December 1934

Shirley Temple Signs a New Contract, 1934

Hitler, Vanity Fair, August 1935

Josephine Baker, Vanity Fair, February 1936

Xochimilco Scene, 1938


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