Milton Glaser- A Visionary Purveyor of Visual Culture

Milton Glaser (b. June 26th 1929) is among the most celebrated graphic designers in the United States.

Milton Glaser emerged as a prolific purveyor of visual culture in the 1960s. Glaser’s brand of graphic design distinctively captured the spirit of the psychedelic sixties. Bob Dylan, The Rolling stones, and The Beatles were all packaged in concert poster and vinyl records with Glaser’s groovy blend of comic book colors and clear-cut images. Glaser’s catalogue of designs certainly convey a Warholesque blending of abstract expressionism with everyday items and the icons of the time. Similar to Andy Warhol, Glaser redefined the Western conception of Popular Art that appealed to the media culture. Graphic design emerged as a standard of twentieth century art due to Glaser’s contribution to advertising popular culture. However, to exemplify the lingering influence of Glaser’s work within the frame of modern culture, his biography will be slightly explored.

Glaser captures the enigmatic persona of Bob Dylan with the blush of psychedelic curls that contrasts his opaque outline. Via miltonglaser.com

Born in the late 1920s in New York City, Glaser graduated from the Cooper Union institute with a degree in graphic design and paved his way as an illustrator during the rise of television culture in the 1950s. Glaser co-founded Push Pin Studios with a group of his fellow Cooper Union graduates and experimentally changed the scope of both graphic design and visual art.

Essentially, Glaser sought to redefine the breadth of Modern Art during his early period. Glaser translated the burgeoning counterculture as his fame increased throughout the 1960s. Glaser’s technique of superimposing, or layering, smooth figures with a palette of dynamic colors was famously distinguished in his 1966 print of Bob Dylan. Referred by the Smithsonian as the ‘Sign of the Times,’ Glaser captures the enigmatic persona of Bob Dylan with the blush of psychedelic curls that contrasts his opaque outline. Glaser generated great success after his Dylan portrait was laminated on the cover of his greatest hits compilation, which sold more than six million copies. Glaser’s celebrity heightened as he was contracted to create logos such as the I Heart New York design.

I Love NY Campaign. Via miltonglaser.com
Milton Glaser, pictured in 1974

Much in the same way Andy Warhol melded the conventions of high art with popular culture, Glaser expanded the possibilities for graphic designers to infiltrate the economics of the media. Glaser received the National Medal of Arts in 2009, which informs his legacy of pushing the envelope with redefining the elusive boundaries of what constitutes art. Essentially, the twentieth century Postmodern Art movement- which employs techniques such as juxtaposing high culture with low culture, minimal design elements, and collaging different art forms- owes a debt to Glaser for establishing the medium of graphic design within the sphere of Postmodernism.

Mad Men / AMC / Animation. Via miltonglaser.com

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