New York: Artists Equity Association, 1957. Slim folio, original spiral-bound color lithographic pictorial wrappers, with forty-five original lithographs (one printed in color) by various artists on colored laid paper. Light toning and edgewear to wrappers.
Limited first edition program, one of two thousand copies, commemorating the 1957 Bal Fantastique, the annual fundraising masquerade ball for Artists Equity Association. AEA was founded in 1947 to advance the economic interests of American artists in the face of dwindling government support for the arts after the Second World War. In its efforts to enlist private and institutional backing, the Association solicited program advertisements from a host of businesses large and small. Member artists were selected by advertisers to supply original artwork and given complete freedom of expression: “Spontaneity and fun, in the spirit of our annual Bal Fantastique Masque Ball, was the objective rather than orthodox merchandising." While predictably showcasing many galleries and art supply shops, the program also features ads for Fortune Magazine, BVD, Maidenform, Fabergé and the nation of Argentina. Contributing artists include Chaim Gross, Robert Gwathmey, Lily Harmon, Jacob Lawrence, Leo Lionni, and Harry Sternberg, among others. The spirited program notes, together with the sponsor and patron listings, reflect the midcentury merger of art, business and New York society. A near-fine copy of a fragile production, complete with forty-five original lithographs.