Milton Glaser. Posters - Bilbao Fine Arts Museum


2022-02-08 • 2022-09-25

Milton Glaser. Posters

Gallery 32. Until 26 June 2022

Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, 8 February 2022.- In recent years, the museum has received a considerable set of posters through several donations, which have significantly expanded its extensive collection in this artistic discipline.

This monographic exhibition is now showcasing around 20 posters representative of the oeuvre of Milton Glaser (New York, 1929–2020), chosen from among the 48 by this author which were donated by a private collector in 2013, 2020 and 2021. They span three and a half decades of his work—from 1976 to 2011—and show the broad range of interests that characterised this iconic designer, with posters ranging from advertisements or commemorations to activism in favour of human rights or the environment.

Milton Glaser. Posters follows in the footsteps of the exhibition Messages off the Wall. Posters in the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum Collection (1886–1975), curated by Mikel Bilbao Salsidua, a professor in the Department of Art and Music History at the University of the Basque Country, UPV/EHU. That 2015 exhibition presented more than 200 pieces from the museum’s extensive and until then little known poster collection. This time, the poster Dylan, which Glaser created in 1967 for an extraordinarily successful record by the US musician and poet Bob Dylan, is being displayed for the first time.

The selection presented now gives an accurate idea of the versatility of this this New York creator, who is regarded as one of the most important and influential graphic designers of the twentieth century. Glaser developed his talent in several areas related to design and marketing: logos; corporate typefaces and identities; advertising campaigns; packaging; covers and illustrations for records, books and magazines; and posters. One of the most famous milestones in his career is his 1976 work for the campaign to promote tourism and the image of New York, which inspired the slogan and logo ‘I [heart] New York’. Yet despite its success and broad dissemination, Glaser never even registered it.

Milton Glaser (New York, 1929–2020)

Milton Glaser studied at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York, and through a Fulbright grant he furthered his education at the University of Bologna (Italy), where his teacher was the painter Giorgio Morandi (1890–1964). This period affected his work by leaving references to the painting tradition which can be perceived in many of his posters. Upon his return to New York, he, Seymour Chwast, Reynold Ruffins and Edward Sorel and founded the graphic design studio Push Pin Studios, which he and Chwast ran for two decades. In 1974, he created his own studio, Milton Glaser Inc.

His interest in the world of publishing led him to found New York magazine in 1968 along with Clay Felker, and in 1983 he founded the WBMG publishing house with Walter Bernard. He also contributed to magazines like Eye, Life, Paris Match, Print and Time, and he illustrated several books, including most notably the children’s book Cats and Bats and Things with Wings (1965) in conjunction with the poet Conrad Aiken, and The Underground Gourmet (1966) with Jerome Snyder.

He also earned important accolades such as the Cooper Hewitt Lifetime Achievement Award (2004), granted in recognition of his career, and the National Medal of Arts (2009), making him the first graphic designer in history to be given this award.

Throughout his extensive career, and just up to his death in June 2020, Milton Glaser designed more than 500 cultural, commercial or activist posters. Standouts include those depicting Bob Dylan, Johann Sebastian Bach, Aretha Franklin, Carnegie Hall, the Montreux Jazz Festiva, the San Francisco Opera and the TV series Mad Men, just to mention a few.


From Jules Chéret to Milton Glaser

A century of posters in the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum collection

Mikel Bilbao Salsidua.

Professor in the Art and Music History Department at the UPV-EHU

Thursday 17 de febrero

Poster included in Bob Dylan’s first compilation album, Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits (1967)