The CBS eye, created in 1951 and still in use today, is one of the best-known and most highly regarded corporate trademarks. It was consciously displayed by both the national network and local affiliates and adorned a range of artifacts, including studio signs, matchboxes, ashtrays, record albums, and promotional materials. Senior network executives and entertainers were given extraordinary CBS cufflinks, executed in marble, onyx, and gold.
The eye was an important symbol in Surrealism, and the logo surely owes something to modernist aesthetics. CBS’s art director, William Golden, acknowledged only one source for the trademark, however: the “evil eye” symbol found on Shaker barns, which he encountered in a 1950 article in the short-lived but trailblazing magazine Portfolio.
Studio sign, 1950s. Enamel on metal. Private collection; Ashtrays, c. 1952, c. 1955, c. 1966. Porcelain, enamel on glass. Private collection; Cufflinks, c. 1957. Gold, onyx, and marble. Private collection; “The Gift to Be Simple,” Shaker drawing (source for the CBS eye design), Portfolio 1, no. 1, Winter 1950. Private collection
(Above) installation view, Revolution of the Eye, The Jewish Museum, New York, May 2015. Photo by David Heald, courtesy of the Jewish Museum. (Foreground) Man Ray, Indestructible Object, 1923/1965.