When I saw a notice about MAD Magazine artist Al Jaffee’s death at 102 yesterday, it was tucked in the corner of a website so I didn’t think there would be a lot of notice. But this morning there were a plethora of stories.
He has been feted for his work on the magazine’s fold-in back cover which turned a large picture into the wry answer the picture caption. For me, that was an inadvertent bit of visual art education to readers of the magazine. Seeing how ultimate image was derived from the larger piece taught people to look closer at what might be happening at the edges of pictures. I can’t be the only person who tried to figure out the answer in my mind’s eye before folding the page.
While it may not have been high art, those covers could have been a great entrée for introductory level visual arts courses since so many classic paintings had meaningful images inserted in the periphery. And of course, the final fold in image wasn’t the only visual joke. The whole cover was peppered with satire and foolishness as a reward to the patient viewer.