Arthur Sarnoff

An illustrator for many national magazines, Arthur Sarnoff was known for illustration and paintings, which were whimsical and attention getting because of their reflection of many aspects of American culture—product consumption, domestic life, sports, celebrities, sex, crime and musical entertainment.

Sarnoff was born in Brooklyn and studied at the Industrial School and the Grand Central Art School* in New York City. Among his teachers were John Clymer and Andrew Wyeth. He was a member of the Society of Illustrators* and exhibited widely including the National Academy of Design*.

Much of his illustration work beginning in the 1930s was for weekly and monthly magazines and included McCall’s, American Weekly, Collier’s, Woman’s Home Companion, Redbook, American Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Esquire, and Good Housekeeping. His ad images were used to promote Karo Syrup (Karo Kid is a 40s icon), Dextrose (ditto the Sugar Blonde), Lucky Strike cigarettes, Coors beer, Camay soup, and over-the-counter much advertised medications such as Sal Hepatica, Listerine, Vick’s Vapo Rub, Meds and Ipana.

He also did portraits of President and Mrs Kennedy. Two subjects continue to keep him famous: popular and tasteful pin-up girl calendars and the pool playing (and card playing and golfing) dogs, of which The Hustler became one was the best-selling prints of the 1950s.

He usually signed his art by using his full name or “Sarnoff,” or just “AS.”

In honor of Sarnoff’s 70th birthday in 2001, his two daughters, Susan and Elizabeth, set up the Arthur Sarnoff Alumni Financial Aid Fund at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in Central Park, New York City. A children’s school attended by Sarnoff’s daughters, the school remained of special interest to Arthur Sarnoff and his family.

ecfreporter, Volume 50, Spring/Summer 2002
Peter Hastings Falk, Editor, Who Was Who in American Art