Discovering Cipe

Image by Cipe Pineles

A few years ago, Wendy MacNaughton and Sarah Rich discovered a painted manuscript at an antiquarian book fair that blew their minds: a vibrant gouache painting of hot pink beets alongside a hand-lettered recipe for borscht written in script so full of life, it was hard to believe it was more than sixty-five years old.

They learned it was the work of one of the most influential yet unsung graphic designers of the twentieth century, Cipe (pronounced “C. P.”) Pineles, a name you may have heard, although too few people have. Cipe was art director at Conde Nast in the 1930s-60s, heading up design for numerous major publications. She is often credited with having been the first art director to commission fine artists for editorial illustration (Ben Shahn, Andy Warhol, and others). She was the revolutionary creative force behind Seventeen and Charm magazines. She was the first woman inducted into the Art Directors' Hall of Fame and the AIGA, and taught design at Parsons for decades.

The painted sketchbook Wendy and Sarah found was completed in 1945, and was a keepsake of her connection to her childhood's Eastern European Jewish food, filled with recipes passed down from her mother. She called it Leave Me Alone with the Recipes. Wendy and Sarah knew immediately that they would do everything in their power to get this unseen work published and help lift Cipe Pineles’s name to the forefront of the 20th century design canon.

Wendy and Sarah teamed up with Maria Popova of Brain Pickings and Debbie Millman of Design Matters, along with Mimi Sheraton, Steven Heller, Paula Scher, and Maira Kalman, to present Cipe Pineles' life and work as it should be - in glorious color, with essays, anecdotes, and refreshed recipes surrounding her original paintings. We are proud to share the result of this wonderful collaboration, LEAVE ME ALONE WITH THE RECIPES (Bloomsbury Publishing; October 17, 2017; Hardcover / $27.00).