A new book shows Milton Glaser’s impact in the 60s and 70s, from psychedelia and beyond
Hundreds of Glaser’s works, unseen since their original publication, feature in print once more to show the legendary designer’s portfolio before and after I ❤ NY.
- Liz Gorny
- 2 February 2023
A total of 1,100 images feature in Milton Glaser: Pop, the latest publication from Monacelli (Phaidon). Showing the full range of media that Glaser worked across – from pencil and ink drawing, to painting, monoprint, wood, linocut, pastel and watercolour – the collection offers a glimpse into some of the lesser-known works from one of the most renowned designers of the 20th Century. The new text is by Steven Heller, Mirko Ilić, Beth Kleber who focus on just two decades of Glaser’s long career in the 1960s and 70s.
We begin at the early years of Push Pin Studios, the design and illustration studio co-founded by Glaser. Known for bringing eclecticism in a period of modernism and illustrative realism, the studio worked across everything from record sleeves to logotypes. The authors of Milton Glaser: Pop splits the bulk of remaining chapters into the graphic motifs associated with Glaser to this day. Some of these signatures include Frames and Geometries, Rays and Rainbows, Silhouettes and Shadows, and Die-cuts and Collages.
By showing the gamut of Glaser’s work in the 60s and 70s, we also see his impact on the psychedelic style and on a generation of visual art. A release references how Glaser’s advanced “collage-like arrays, with one foot in classical traditions and the other in cartoon-like illustration”, were taken as hallmarks of the psychedelic style. This impact is highlighted in the cover image, which also appeared across a jacket for the first US edition of Tom Wolfe’s 1968 The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, following Ken Kesey and others’ experiences with LSD fuelled parties.
The book also demonstrates how Glaser blended graphic and illustrative approaches, integrating hand-lettered type into more pictorial depictions. A Time magazine cover, Barry Miles album cover and Michelangelo Antonioni film poster are among some of the works featured.
Summarising the impact of Glaser across this period and beyond, the Monacelli release explains: “Across thousands of works across all print media, he invented a graphic language of bright, flat colour in drawings and collages, imbued with his customary wit. In steering away from the sentimentally realistic clichés of the Saturday Evening Post era, and instead creating visual forms that appealed to a new, highly aware audience of mass-media and product consumers, he shaped a popular visual vocabulary to represent a generation, and for culture at large to emulate and liberally sample from.”
Quoting Gloria Steinem, the release concludes: “From books, record covers, and magazines to I ❤ NY, [Glaser] moved design from the elite to the universal.”
Second National Student Film Festival. Poster, 1966. 35.5 x 23.5 inches. United States National Student Association. From Milton Glaser: Pop.
About the Author
Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating in Film from The University of Bristol, they worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, INDIE magazine and design studio Evermade.