NEW YORK – Milton Glaser, the revolutionary graphic designer who adorned the silhouette of Bob Dylan with psychedelic hair and summed up the feelings for his native New York with “I (HEART) NY”, who died on Friday, his 91st birthday.
The cause was a stroke and Glaser had also suffered from kidney failure, his wife Shirley Glaser told The New York Times.
In posters, logos, advertisements, and book covers, Glaser’s ideas captured the spirit of the 1960s with a few simple colors and shapes. He was the designer of the team that founded New York magazine with Clay Felker in the late 1960s.
“Around our office, of course, he will always be part of the small team of men and women who, in the late 1960s, ripped New York from the morgue and turned it into a major American magazine” , the obituary of Dit Glaser magazine.
Soon, the city’s magazines were mushrooming and singling out his simple and witty design style. When the publication of the titan Rupert Murdoch forced Felker and Glaser to leave the New York magazine during a hostile takeover in 1977, the staff went out in solidarity with their outgoing publishers, leaving an incomplete issue three days before its release in newsstands.
“We have caused – however small – a change in people’s visual habits,” he told The Washington Post in 1969. “Television conditions people to demand the imagination.”
But he said he had to work to keep his style fresh.
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“There is enormous pressure to repeat past successes. It is certain death. Referring to a beloved 60s design motif, he added that he couldn’t make another rainbow “if my life depended on it.” “
His pictorial sense was so deep and his creations so influential that his works from later years were kept by collectors and studied as fine art.
But he preferred not to use the term “art” at all.
“What I’m suggesting is to eliminate the term art and say that everything works,” Glaser said in an interview with the Associated Press in 2000 when the Philadelphia Museum of Art held an exhibition about his career. “When it is really extraordinary and it moves in a certain way, we call it great work. We call it good when it completes a task, and we call it bad when it misses a goal. “
The bold “I (HEART) NY” logo – cleverly using typewriter-type letters as typeface – was imagined as part of an advertising campaign launched in 1977 to strengthen the image of the state when the crime and budget problems dominated the headlines. Glaser did the design for free.
Almost a quarter of a century later, just days after the September 11 terrorist attacks, he revised it, adding a dark scar with a red heart and “more than ever” to the message.
“I woke up on Wednesday morning and said,” God, I have to do something to answer that, “” he told the New York Times. “When you have a heart attack, part of your heart dies. When you recover, part of your heart is gone, but the people in your life become much more important and there is a greater awareness of the value of things. “
Glaser had in fact carried out the design work for the restaurants of the destroyed World Trade Center complex.
His illustration of Dylan in 1966, his face a simple black silhouette but his hair growing in a riot of colors in a curvilinear way, graphically shaped the philosophy of the 1960s according to which letting your hair fly was a way to free your mind. (For him, however, it was not an image inspired by drugs: he said that he had borrowed from Marcel Duchamp and Islamic art.)
The poster was inserted into Dylan’s “Greatest Hits” album, so it made its way between millions of fans.
“It was a new use for the poster – a gift that was supposed to encourage people to buy the album,” Glaser told the New York Times in 2001. “Then he took on a life of his own, appearing in movies, magazines, whatever. He is not dead, as such forms of mayflies generally do. “
Other notable Glaser projects include cover illustrations from Shakespeare’s Broché editions; type designs such as Baby Teeth, first used on the Dylan poster and Glaser Stencil; and a poster for the Mostly Mozart Festival with a colorful sneeze from Mozart. His creations also inspired Tony Kushner’s bill for “Angels in America”
Glaser was born in 1929 in the Bronx and studied at the Cooper Union art school in New York and Italy.
In 1954, he co-founded the innovative graphic design firm Push Pin Studios with Seymour Chwast and others. He stayed there for 20 years before founding his own business.
The Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum awarded him an award for his lifetime achievement in 2004. In 2009, he received the National Medal of the Arts.
“I just love to do everything, and I always wanted to see how far I could go to push the limits,” he said.