Traffic Jam by Earl Mayan

  • American illustrator Earl Mayan demonstrates the frustrations of commuting
  • The comical scene was featured on the cover of the April 28, 1956 Saturday Evening Post
  • Remarkably detailed, the work displays Mayan's mastery over visual narrative
  • Get complete item description here
Item No. 31-4099

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Earl Mayan
1916-2009 | American

Traffic Jam
Saturday Evening Post
cover, April 28, 1956

Signed "Mayan" (lower left)
Oil on board

Featured on the cover of the April 28, 1956 Saturday Evening Post, the comical illustration by American illustrator Earl Mayan chronicles a messy traffic jam. The traffic cop that is supposed to be operating the busy intersection’s stoplight is distracted by a group of young ladies nearby. He ignores his post, causing the gridlock and angering the motorists. American automobile culture reached its heyday in the 1950s. Here, the eye-catchingly colorful pile-up of cars echoes America’s growing love affair with this modern convenience, while Mayan’s humorous narrative highlights the inconveniences they sometimes bring.

With a career that spanned the era of pulp magazines to the post-WWII years, Earl Mayan's oeuvre presents a colorful snapshot of mid-20th century American life. Born in 1916, he learned his trade at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, joining the field of pulp illustration after his graduation in 1936. When America joined the Second World War, Mayan enlisted in the Army, serving overseas from 1941-1945. Upon his return, he earned a number of important commissions for the Saturday Evening Post, painting ten Post covers in all and illustrating many of the stories that appeared inside the magazine. Much like Norman Rockwell and other master American illustrators of his era, Mayan worked from real-life photographs to achieve remarkable detail and realism in his works. Today, a portrait of César Chávez by Mayan hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., and his work is prized in important private collections worldwide.

Circa 1956

Canvas: 34 5/8" high x 30 1/8" wide
Frame: 42 3/4" high x 38 1/4" wide
Traffic Jam by Earl Mayan
Maker: Mayan, Earl
Period: 1919-Present
Origin: America
Type: Paintings
Depth: 2.13 Inches
Width: 38.25 Inches
Height: 42.75 Inches
Style: Illustration
Canvas Width: 30.125 Inches
Canvas Height: 34.625 Inches

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