During the 1951 exhibition of the Ontario Society of Artists (OSA), conservative artists protested over the new swell of modern art. In press coverage of the controversy, Oscar Cahén’s Expressionist Rooster was singled out. Consequently, Cahén designed this cover fror Maclean’s magazine, poking fun at a cliché of Canadian art: the wintery landscape, such as the Group of Seven had painted. In the illustration, the art gallery wall is lined with them, but the winter weary visitors in their heavy clothing have eyes only for the one summer scene—marked sold with a red star.
Throughout his career Cahén designed thirty-eight covers for Maclean’s, then Canada’s dominant national magazine. Magazine covers were prestigious because they allowed more freedom than most other kinds of illustration assignments; it was the artist’s responsibility and privilege to come up with smart ideas, for which he or she was well compensated. Seen across the entire nation, sometimes framed to hang on people’s walls, Maclean’s covers were ideal for delivering an important message in the guise of a playful cartoon.