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Remember how thrilling that first season of Mad Men was? The people were pretty. The cars were shiny. The clothes were impeccable.

On the outside, 1950s life was perfect. (The inside? Not so much.)

A new exhibit--Mac Conner: A New York Life--pulls back the curtain and shows exactly how those flawless-family ideals were pushed to the masses.

Conner was a prominent magazine and advertising illustrator in the ?50s and ?60s, who got his start by doing covers for The Saturday Evening Post. (How very Norman Rockwell of him.) He then progressed into homemaker publications (like Cosmopolitan and Redbook) and national advertising (say, Chrysler).

The Museum of the City of New York has taken his best illustrations (nipped-waist dresses and day gloves at their finest) and paired them with assignment letters from editors and art buyers, which gave pointed direction on how the clients wanted these women and children to be portrayed (unsurprisingly: with conformity). You?ll not only see behind the veil of suburban utopia, but you?ll also be able to follow history throughout the collection and watch as the styles morph with the social landscape (read: feminism, civil rights and political unrest).

Runs through January 19; Museum of the City of New York, 1220 Fifth Ave. (at 103rd St.); 212-534-1672 or mcny.org

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