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Alvin Lustig papers

 Collection — Box: 1-8
Identifier: CSC-0014

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of examples and photographs of Lustig's design work, writings by and about him, and portrait photographs of him.

Series I. contains photographic portraits from 1925 until 1954 in box 1. Series II. contains a variation of bibliographic records from 1943 until 1984 in box 1. Series III. contains various client project files worked on by Alvin Lustig between the years of 1938 and 1955 in boxes 2-8.


  • Creation: 1925-1984


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to researchers.

Biographical / Historical

Graphic and industrial designer, artist, architect and educator, Alvin Lustig was born in Denver, Colorado and raised from age five in Los Angeles. His hybrid education included one year at Los Angeles Community College and one at the city's Art Center School, followed by independent study with both, architect, Frank Lloyd Wright and artist, Jean Charlot.

By 1937, Lustig opened in Los Angeles, the first of a series of design offices that he would occupy during his brief career. He began his professional work with innovative graphic and typographic design for book publisher Ward Ritchie, and for several local clients for whom he created stationery, programs and other printed pieces.

In 1944, Lustig relocated to New York and became the Director of Visual Research at Look Magazine, an affilliation which lasted for two years before he returned to California and opened a design office in Beverly Hills. The late 1940's saw the development of Lustig's architectural and interior design practice, and a number of industrial design commissions for lighting fixtures, fabrics and furniture. Lustig kept his hand in graphic design, continuing to produce quantities of book jackets for the New Directions, Knopf and Noonday presses during the 1940's and 50's. He also designed covers for several periodicals including Fortune magazine.

A move back to New York in 1950 brought a return to a concentration on graphic design with projects for the Girl Scouts of America, American Crayon Company, Whitney Publications, and Intercultural Publications, in addition to several museums and art galleries.

Lustig's career as an educator began with a teaching assignment at North Carolina's Black Mountain College in the summer of 1945, and led to further contracts with the Art Center School at Los Angeles and Yale University. A one-man exhibition of Lustig's work was mounted by New York's A-D Gallery in 1949 and travelled to Walker Art Center in Minneapolis; five years later he had completely lost his sight, a complication of diabetes. Alvin Lustig died in New York on December 5, 1955, survived by his widow Elaine Firstenberg Lustig, whom he had married in 1948.


4.5 Linear Feet (7 document boxes, 1 oversize box)


The collection consists of examples and photographs of Lustig's design work, writings by and about him, and portrait photographs of him.


This collection is arranged into three series: Series I. Photographic Portraits 1925-1954, Series II. Bibliographic Files 1943-1984, and Series III. Client Project Files 1938-1955.

Physical Location

Cary Graphic Arts Collection.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was a gift from Elaine Lustig Cohen in 1986.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Sandra Markham, 1989.

Finding aid encoded by Megan Moltrup, March 2012.

Alvin Lustig papers
Cary Graphic Arts Collection
Megan moltrup
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Cary Graphic Arts Collection Repository

Rochester NY 14623 US
(585) 475-2408