Documentary on Artist Milton Glaser: To Inform & Delight
The two most familiar images created by Milton Glaser embody a pair of decades—the trippy Bob Dylan poster from the ‘60s, which hung in thousands of dorm rooms, and the I Love NY logo, which calmly stated defiance over the city’s near collapse in the ‘70s. But the commercial artist worked in many modes, designing everything from newspaper layouts to restaurant interiors to advertising campaigns. His two most famous images give only a rough idea of his stylistic scope—on one hand, strong simplicity in form and content and on the other, a psychedelic flight of fancy.
As the artist stresses repeatedly in the documentary Milton Glaser: To Inform and Delight (out on Blu-ray), style can be a trap. Always eager to engage visual history, Glaser was instrumental (along with his contemporaries in Pop Art) in helping stop the ostensibly forward march of Modern Art during the‘60s. In an engaging series of interviews with one of the world’s most influential designers and a look inside his New York studio, director Wendy Keys questions her erudite and articulate subject from many perspectives. Selling one-off artifacts in galleries, otherwise known as producing furniture for the rich, never appealed to Glaser as much as the power of creativity in the public sphere. Lest anyone dismiss commercial art as trivial, his I Love NY logo helped turn around a bankrupt city in a dark period.
When asked about the meaning of art, Glaser quotes the ancient writer Horace, who held that the purpose of art is “to inform and delight.” Keys’ documentary succeeds in doing both.