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On the second floor of New York’s Museum of Modern Art is one of the vast museum’s most intriguing shows this year: George Lois: The Esquire Covers. Tucked away at the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Gallery — in the corner of a cavernous room full of exotic chairs and other design relics — it’s the little exhibition with the big crowds.

I had hoped this show would get a larger treatment, being a Lois fan and having posted a preview blog, Catcher of the Eye. Yet the interest and hubub around the exhibition (on view through March of 2009) indicates that Lois’s Esquire covers still draw attention and controversy decades later, endure as icons of the 1960s, and have been officially sanctioned as Modern Art. As the show makes clear, the driving reason for this is Lois’s mantra: The Big Idea.