Gene Federico papers, 1918-2003 and undated bulk 1951-1991

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Federico, Gene
20.5 Linear Feet
3800 Items
Collection ID:


Scope and content:

The Gene Federico Papers span the years 1918-2003, with the bulk of the collection dating 1951-1991. The collection documents Federico's sixty years as a pioneering leader in advertising and graphic design, and contains materials from a variety of formats, including correspondence, writings, advertisements proofs and clippings, graphic design and printed materials, posters, sketches/sketchbooks, photographs, negatives, and videotapes. In addition to limited personal and biographical material, the collection primarily documents Federico's creative output as a graphic designer, art director, and advertising executive at agencies including Grey Advertising, Doyle Dane Bernbach, Douglas D. Simon, Benton & Bowles, Warwick & Legler, and as a principal at Lord Geller Federico Einstein; the collection has limited material relating to the specific agencies for which he worked. The collection also documents Federico's extensive freelance and exhibition work throughout his career (most notably the "Love of Apples" and "24-Page Book" designs), in addition to his later consulting work for Brouillard Communications. Client advertisements and graphic design materials compose the majority of the collection. Significant clients represented include: Christian Dior; Elektra Records; Elizabeth Arden; Goldman Sachs; IBM; L'Aiglon Apparel; Lady Pepperell; Napier; The New Yorker; and Woman's Day. Though an art director throughout most of his career, Federico contributed significantly to the graphic design and typographical components of advertising. Through clear and innovative integration of design and typographical components, Federico pioneered the use of visual puns in advertisements, and emphasized clarity of message over design complexity. The collection will be of particular value to researchers interested in developments in print advertising and typographical design since World War II. The collection is organized into six series which focus on Federico's contributions to advertising and graphic design: Professional Files, Personal Files, Graphic Design, Advertising Campaigns, Photographs and Negatives, and Videocassettes.

The Professional Files Series includes business correspondence, professional writings, award/exhibit materials, press clippings and industry publications, in addition to limited files on the Art Directors Club of New York City and Lord Geller Federico Einstein. The Personal Files Series includes biographical and family materials; memorabilia documenting Federico's years as a student at Abraham Lincoln High School and Pratt Institute; World War II materials, including U.S. Army publications/posters produced by Federico and four sketchbooks; and original artwork (drawings, sketches, prints) not related to Federico's professional design and advertising work. The Graphic Design Series documents Federico's extensive graphic design work, including announcements and cards, book and record cover designs, calendars, design concepts, illustrations, letterhead, posters, transparencies, and typographic materials, as well as materials by other artists and designers. The Advertising Campaigns Series includes advertisement clippings and proofs, concepts and sketches, and client reports, representing over one hundred clients in a variety of industries. (Series contains a renowned example of Federico's use of visual puns: a 1953 Woman's Day advertisement - "She's got to Go Out to get Woman's Day" - which features a woman on a bicycle, the wheels of which form the "O"s in "Go Out.") The Photographs and Negatives Series includes both black & white and color images of Federico's advertising and graphic design work, Federico and his associates in a business setting, and a limited selection of personal and family photographs. The Videocassettes Series includes seven videotapes of commercials, short films, and memorial tributes documenting Federico's career in graphic design and advertising. Large-format materials (clippings, proofs, sketches, posters) have been removed from their original series location and relocated to Oversize Materials.

Other materials related to this collection may be found in the J. Walter Thompson Company Archives: Competitive Advertisements Collection and Corporation Vertical Files. For materials relating specifically to the advertising agency Benton & Bowles, consult the D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles Advertisements and Archives. Materials relevant to Lord Geller Federico Einstein and advertising strategy may be found in the Arthur Einstein Papers. For materials relating to Brouillard Communications and Doyle Dane Bernbach Advertising, see the Thomas F. Garbett Papers. Materials relevant to IBM advertising may be found in the Edgar Hatcher Papers.

Biographical / historical:
Date Event
1918 Feb. 6
Born in New York, NY
Graduated Abraham Lincoln High School; "Art Squad" member; studied with Leon Friend, along with fellow students Alex Steinweiss, Seymour Chwast, and William Taubin
Graduated from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY; studied with Tom Benrimo
Member of the Art Students League; studied with Howard Trafton and Herbert Bayer
Joined the Abbott Kimball Company, Art Department
Joined the Art Department staff of the L. Bamberger Department Store
Served four years in the United States Army, stationed in the U.S., Europe, and North Africa; member of the 84th Engineer Camouflage Batallion, supervised graphics for Plans and Operations
Returned to the Abbott Kimball Company as Art Director
Participated in the "Four Veterans" Exhibit at the A-D Gallery, along with fellow artists/designers Herbert Bender, Charles Egri, and Seymour Robins
Joined Fortune Magazine as Associate Art Director
Joined Grey Advertising as Art Director
Became Instructor in Design at The Workshop School
Became Art Director at Doyle, Dane, Bernbach Advertising
Served as Art Director and Vice-President at Douglas D. Simon Advertising
Joined Benton & Bowles as Vice-President and Group Head
Joined Warwick & Legler Advertising
Founding partner of Lord, Geller, Federico, Einstein
Inducted into Art Director's Club Hall of Fame
Received American Institute of Graphic Arts medal
Became Creative Director at Lord, Geller, Federico, Einstein; promoted to Vice-Chairman in April
Served as consultant with Brouillard Communications
1990 May 12
Received Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from The Parsons School of Design
Retired as design consultant
Continued to work as freelance graphic designer; capstone to sixty-year career in advertising and graphic design
1999 Sept. 8
Died in Pound Ridge, NY
Acquisition information:
The Gene Federico Papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book Manuscript Library as a gift in 2003 and 2004.
Processing information:

Processed by Ryan Denniston and Casey A. Jarrin.

Completed April 6, 2005.

Processing of this collection was funded in part by Helen Federico and an anonymous donor.

Accessions 2003-0008, 2003-0245, and 2004-0321 were merged into one collection, described in this finding aid.

Selected materials were returned, by request, to collection donor. Photocopies of these materials remain within the collection, contained in the Personal Files Series and the Graphic Design Series.

Physical location:
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
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Collection is open for research.

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Original audiovisual materials are closed to patron use. Use copies are available in the collection.

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Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], Gene Federico Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University