Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Tom Funk" "High-Brow Low-Brow" Chart 1949

The Sunday New York Times in its Squeeze on the Middlebrow article by A.O. Scott, reprinted the "Everyday Tastes From High-Brow to Low Brow" chart. This graphic was originally written by Russell Lynes and created by Tom Funk for a Life Magazine article in 1949. Below are a few excerpts, and then, finally, the complete, larger graph. High-brow is (of course) at the top, with low-brow at the bottom.

Tom Funk (1911-2003) was a prolific illustrator and cartoonist. Married to another artist (Edna Eicke, who drew some beautiful New Yorker covers), he also enjoyed folk dancing, played the banjo and was, up until his death at the age of 92, an active member of the Nutmeg Folk Dance Group.

As with any observation from several generations ago, this one has changed. I mean, beer is not just for the low-brow. Comics and pulps are pretty much everyday reading for a lot of people, and the Western movies that the low-brows flock to have been replaced by movies about comics and pulps, natch!

And, really, I think we all tend to cherry pick what we like. And what we like to consume does not necessarily mean we are one class or another.

These scans are not as big as I wish they could be. If anyone has anything better (and this is a better scan than the Times had), please let me know.

More on Tom Funk at the FishInk blog.

A Tom Funk illustration from a Betty Crocker cookbook. More here.


Brian Fies said...

Huh. Going in, I assumed this was going to be a funny MAD-style piece, but it actually seems pretty straight. I wonder if it was meant to be taken seriously? It's hard for me to tell....

Mike Lynch said...

Oh yes. Quite serious, from the Luce Time/Life Empire back when those pubs were a serious tastemakers.