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Abril Lamarque papers, 1883-2001, bulk, 1904-1999

Abril Lamarque papers, 1883-2001, bulk, 1904-1999

Lamarque, Abril, 1904-1999

Cartoonist, Designer, Illustrator, Draftsmen (artists)

Collection Information

Size: 6.8 linear feet

Summary: The Abril Lamarque papers date from 1883-2001, with the bulk of the material ranging from 1904-1999, and measure 6.2 linear feet. The collection documents the life and career of Cuban-born cartoonist, designer, illustrator, graphic artist, caricaturist, and art director through printed materials, scrapbooks, writings, and original artwork. Found are files and numerous examples of his design work for the New York World-Telegram and Evening Mail, the New York Daily News, the New York Times, US News-World Report, Dell Publishing Company, and others; cartoons and caricatures by Lamarque; files regarding his writings and workshops and his memberships in various organizations. Lamarque's life-long interest in, and amateur performances of, magic are also documented to a lesser extent.

The collection consists primarily of varied printed material (1883-1989), such as magazines, newspapers, clippings, posters, and other publications that Lamarque either designed or that feature his cartoons, caricatures, or illustrations. These include clippings of the comic strip Monguito and editions of the Havana newspaper Lunes de Diario de Cuba.

Printed material also includes posters, some humorous and others more serious, such as the posters Lamarque designed for the "Aluminum for Britian" project which he was asked to discontinue by the U.S. State Department. Seven scrapbooks (1920-1959) containing clippings and articles, illustrations, scattered letters, photographs, invitations, artwork, and other materials detailing Lamarque's extensive artistic career and his amateur magic performances are also found within the collection. In addition, the collection includes biographical information; scattered correspondence (1922-1990) and financial records (1924-1962); published and unpublished writings and lectures (1925-1999) in the form of book reviews, lectures, articles on publication design, and a typewritten manuscript Lamarque wrote in the late 1970s on the principles of publication design; original artwork such as caricatures, pencil sketches, and illustrations by Abril Lamarque, his brother Juan Abril Lamarque, and other artists; and numerous photographs (1924-1986) documenting Lamarque's private and professional life.

Also found are files on Abril Lamarque Creations (1940-1945), a design studio owned by Lamarque focusing on the design and manufacture of modern decorative accessories for the home, such as serving trays, cigarette holders and jewelry. Lamarque also designed small airmail labels and sold them through Woolworth's discount stores in the 1940s.

The collection includes several subject files (1904-1996) concerning the Barcardi company, for which Lamarque designed a company logo and annual reports, the Dell Publishing Company, and Cuban caricaturist and publisher Conrado Massaguer. The material on Massaguer includes a rare 1933 edition of the New York weekly magazine, Knickerbocker Jr., filled with Massaguer's illustrations, several covers of his celebrated magazine Social, published in Havana between the years 1916 and 1938, and pages from the "Ellos" section of Social, a segment that included Massaguer's caricatures of prominent members of Cuban high society. Included is a large color poster of one of Massaguer's most famous caricatures, "Doble Nueve," with a handwritten dedication inscribed on the right. The Subject Files also include materials collected about Mexican caricaturist Ernesto García, self-taught Polish painter Karol Kozlowski, and several other illustrators and political figures of interest to Lamarque.

Biographical/Historical Note

Abril Lamarque (1904-1999) was a cartoonist, designer, illustrator, art director, and graphic artist from New York, N.Y. Full name Eduardo Abril Lamarque; b. Cuba, 1904 Aug. 28; d. 1999 Jan. 25.


Donated 2001 by Martha Lamarque Sarno and Lita M. Elvers, daughters of Eduardo Abril Lamarque.

A Finding Aid to the Abril Lamarque Papers,
bulk 1904-1999
, in the Archives of American Art
Biographical Note
Eduardo Abril Lamarque was born in Cuba on August 28, 1904. His parents sent him to the United States in 1916 when he was twelve to study English and business administration. He lived with an American family in Brooklyn. Lamarque's first cartoon was published in the Boy Scout section of the
New York World-Telegram and Evening Mail
at age 15. Four years later he created
, a comic strip that appeared regularly in the
New York Daily News
. He is credited with creating, in the early 1920s, the first Spanish language comic strip that was not translated from English. The title cartoon character,
, was a hapless soul, fully dressed in business suit and hat, who kept getting into sticky situations. Lamarque produced hundreds of these strips which were picked up by the New York based United Feature Syndicate and published daily in Spanish language newspapers throughout Latin America and the United States.
When he was twenty, Lamarque returned to Cuba and worked as the artistic director for the Havana newspaper
Lunes de Diario de Cuba
. He also published a booklet designed to teach the elements of caricature drawing. Lamarque returned to New York and was hired by the
New York World Telegram and Evening Mail
as a caricaturist. In this position, he produced political cartoons and caricatures for the paper, introducing his "radiocatures", which involved providing instructions on the radio for filling in a grid in the newspaper to produce a caricature of well-known figure in the news.
In 1927, at the age of 23, he became the first art director of Dell Publishing Company - a magazine empire that included
Film Fun
I Confess
War Stories
Modern Screen
Popular Song
Radio Stars
Theatrical Page
, and
Modern Romances
. He continued working there for 14 years.
In 1940-1941, Lamarque established Abril Lamarque Creations, a design firm that specialized in elegant and functional household objects and jewelry in a modernist tradition. His signature piece was the Pallettray, a serving tray modeled after an artist's palette and hand-finished in exotic woods.
Between 1941 and 1946, Lamarque became the first art director for the Sunday edition of the
New York Times
and redesigned the
New York Times Magazine
and the
New York Times Book Review
. Throughout his career, Lamarque designed and redesigned countless magazines and journals, including
American Weekly
New York News
Metropolitan Life
Popular Science
This Week
US News-World Report
, and others.
In 1948, Lamarque established a successful graphic design studio in New York that provided a full spectrum of design services, including annual reports, posters, product labeling, corporate publications, advertising, logos, package designs, and brochures. His clients included Barcardi Company, Con Edison, Ericcson Telephone, General Cable, Berlitz School, Lipton, Monsanto, and numerous magazines. In 1958, he was given the National Award for Graphic Design in packaging. His design for the annual American Red Cross poster was selected for the 1948 national Red Cross campaign.
His success and high demand as a publication art director, consultant, and designer was attributed to innovative design principles he based on the German Bauhaus School and its philosophy that promoted functional design principles. Lamarque reduced these principles to a set of guidelines suitable for page design and applied them successfully to a wide variety of publication and print layouts.
Lamarque's teaching experience began in the early 1940s with seminars and workshops he conducted for the publishing industry. He joined the faculty of New York University School of Continuing Education in 1958, where he taught until 1963, and later joined the Crowell Collier Institute and taught publication design workshops across the United States and Canada. He also gave workshops and courses at Oklahoma State School of Journalism.
Lamarque was a long-time member of the Society of Illustrators, Society of Art Directors, the Dutch Treat Club, National Press Club, and New York University Club. He was also an amateur magician and member of the Society of American Magicians. He performed magic acts for the annual Christmas party of the Society of Illustrators. Abril Lamarque died in 1999 at the age of 94.
The Abril Lamarque papers are arranged into ten series based primarily on type of material. Within each series, materials are arranged chronologically, except for Series 8: Subject Files which is arranged in alphabetical order.
Series 1: Biographical Files, 1917-2001, undated (box 1, OV 12; .50 linear feet)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1922-1990, undated (box 1, OV 12; 9 folders)
Series 3: Writings and Workshops, 1925-1999 (box 2; 0.75 linear feet)
Series 4: Financial Files, 1924-1962 (box 2; 1 folder)
Series 5: Abril Lamarque Creations,1940-1945, undated (box 2, OV 13; 8 folders)
Series 6: Printed Material, 1883-1989, undated (boxes 3-4, 6, 11, OVs 14, 16, 18; 1.5 linear feet)
Series 7: Original Artwork, 1914-1988, undated (box 4, OVs 15, 18; 8 folders)
Series 8: Subject Files, 1904-1996, undated (box 4, OVs 17-18; 0.5 linear feet)
Series 9: Photographs and Slides, 1924-1986 (boxes 4-5; 0.5 linear feet)
Series 10: Scrapbooks, 1920-1959, undated (boxes 7-10; 1.2 linear feet)
Donated 2001 by Martha Lamarque Sarno and Lita M. Elvers, daughters of Eduardo Abril Lamarque.
Processing Information
The Abril Lamarque papers were processed by Rosa M. Fernandez, July, 2002.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center.

How to Cite This Collection

Abril Lamarque papers, 1883-2001, bulk, 1904-1999. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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