Visionary Art Director George Lois’s Death Left Many in Mourn
The icon of ads and magazine covers George Lois passed away on Friday (November 18, 2022) at his home in Manhattan. His son Luke confirmed the devastating news.
Lois’ son, the photographer Luke Lois, noted that his father’s death followed the death of Mr. Lois’s wife, Rosemary, by two months. Luke did not specify a cause.
George Lois was born on June 26, 1931, in The Bronx, New York United States. He went to work for the advertising and promotions department at CBS where he designed media projects and print.
He was hired by the advertising agency Doyle Dane Bernbach in 1959. After one year there, he was recruited by Julian Koenig and Fred Papert to form Papert Koenig Lois in 1960. PKL was also the first advertising agency to ever go public.
In 1967 George left to form Lois, Holland, Callaway. His last agency, Lois/USA, created memorable campaigns for clients such as Minolta, Tourneau, and The Four Seasons. It ended its run in 1999.
In 1968, he obtained the coveted Braniff International Airways account. George incorporated a series of unique television commercials that paired unlikely celebrities as Sonny Liston and Andy Warhol sitting on Braniff aircraft seats discussing unique and unlikely subjects.
He also discovered that airplanes did not have to all look alike so he commissioned Braniff planes to be painted in bold designs.
Nicknamed the “Golden Greek” and later an “Original Mad Man,” George was among a wave of advertisers who launched the “Creative Revolution” that surprised Madison Avenue and the world beyond in the late 1950s and 1960s.
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Visionary Art Director George Lois Passed Away at 91
According to his son, George Lois passed away on November 18, 2022, at the age of 91. His wife Rosemary had passed away two months prior.
George was the only person to have been inducted into all of the following; The One Club Creative Hall of Fame, The Art Directors Hall of Fame, and the Society of Publication Designers.
Lois was also in the American Advertising Federation Hall of Fame. George and other notable advertising alumni of his era are the subjects of the movie Art & Copy. The Museum of Modern Art exhibited 32 of Lois’s Esquire covers in 2008.
He was accused several times of taking credit for others’ ideas and for exaggerating his participation. The New York Times published a correction of an April 2008 review of a Lois art exhibition on May 18, 2008.
In the correction, the Times reported that the “Think Small” Volkswagen advertisement campaign and the “I Want My Maypo” campaign were not created by Lois.
After the devastating news of George Lois’s death was revealed, his fans and friends expressed their deepest sadness. Many people also took to Twitter to send their tributes to the late artist.
Nathan Heller tweeted: “What was a George Lois cover for Esquire? It tended to take a square-on, ultra-familiar image—whether from celebrity or everyday life—and do something startling and witty with it, simple but surprising. He made magazine covers into the best billboards in the business. RIP.”
“And in this way, the “I Want My MTV” ad became the most successful in the music industry’s history while saving the first music channel from closure. Thank you, George Lois,” Robert Katai wrote on Twitter.
Brian Collins wrote: “Goodbye George. A visionary. He brought style and brainy muscularity to advertising and culture-shaping design to all. That he defined himself, first, as designer, made me enter advertising. That he worked until the end let me see what made him a legend.”
“Sad to hear about George Lois passing. I emailed him a few years ago about a feature we were running about his Sonny Liston cover for Esquire. Never expected a reply but he sent over numerous sketches and one hell of a quote, a real gent,” Award-winning art director Ross Lesley-Bayne wrote.
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