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Milton Glaser (American, born 1929)

About this artist

Source: Oxford University Press

American graphic designer and illustrator. At the age of 13 he began taking life classes with Moses and Raphael Soyer in New York and subsequently attended the High School of Music and Art, New York (1943–6). He studied painting, typography and illustration at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, New York (1948–51), with the aim of becoming a comic-strip artist and spent two years (1952–3) at the Accademia di Belle Arti, Bologna, working under Giorgio Morandi and drawing extensively from plaster casts. Drawing remained central to his subsequent career in graphic design. Important early influences were the prints of Félix Valloton and Art Nouveau decoration, and he particularly admired Picasso’s gift for working in both an abstract and realistic vein. In 1954 he founded, with Seymour Chwast, Edward Sorel (b 1929) and Reynold Ruffins (b 1930), the Push Pin Studios in New York. In 1955, with Chwast and Ruffins, he became founder-editor of Push Pin Graphics magazine. Rejecting the precisionist school of graphic design then prevailing, Glaser introduced an eclectic, narrative style full of historical references that amalgamated illustration with vintage typography. His flattened, heavily outlined images were borrowed at random from the Italian Old Masters, 19th-century illustration, comics, advertising and all manner of visual ephemera. He designed posters, record-sleeves, book illustrations, magazine covers and small advertisements in a witty, inventive style characterized by miscellaneous juxtapositions and revivalist frivolity (e.g. poster of antique head for the School of Visual Arts, New York, offset lithograph, 1964; London, V&A).

From the 1960s and to the mid-1970s Push Pin graphics dominated advertising and the print media, and Glaser’s work became something of a fashionable cult. He advocated the reintroduction of basic drawing studies in art colleges and from 1961 lectured at the Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY, and the School of Visual Arts, New York. He was an active board member of several art-affiliated organizations. By the late 1960s his forms had become flatter and more brightly coloured, inspired by Pop and Op art (e.g. Mahalia Jackson poster, offset lithograph, 1967; New York, MOMA), and he restyled a number of American and European journals in this more contemporary manner. Between 1968 and 1976 he was art director of New York Magazine, which he helped to introduce. In 1970 the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, held a major retrospective of Push Pin Studio graphics. By the mid-1970s, however, Glaser had left Push Pin to follow his new interests in furniture, consumer-product and interior design, as well as to widen his involvement in print. From 1975 to 1977 he was a vice-president and design director of the Village Voice newspaper, New York. Among the numerous sign systems he produced was that for the newly refurbished Rainbow Room, Rockefeller Center, New York, in 1987.


From Grove Art Online

© 2009 Oxford University Press

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