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Fifteen years of heartache and aggravation
Milton Glaser Collection: exhibition catalog cover, 1969
September 14, 2013

Fifteen years of heartache and aggravation

In 1969, the Mead Library of Ideas presented an exhibition of the work of Push Pin Studios, sharing the design and illustration of its many current and former members. Despite the fact that the studio was built on the foundation of eclecticism, the show revealed a truly remarkable consistency to the work. Jerome Snyder explained in the exhibition catalogue for Push Pin Studios: Fifteen Years of Heartache and Aggravation how the studio departed from pastiche to develop a new visual language:

What then is the Push Pin dynamic… its resurgent “élan vital”, that keeps their output so ingeniously pertinent? The American society is one of contending forces, conflicting ideologies, myths, moribund and ephemeral. Today’s social turbulence is one of the resonances of that shifting culture. If graphic design, if graphic idioms and language are to be germane to our times, they must resonate in mood and style with quickened temporal pulse. Chwast, Glaser and others who have been members of the Push Pin dramatis personae are above all intimately responsive to those contemporary rhythms. Their perceptive ability to seek and generate from the mine of all iconography some viable kernel as a basis for sparkling new graphic idiom is part of a special virtuosity. To transmute an image from the distant source and invest it with the timeliness of the relevant present is at the root of their uniqueness. Within the formidable body of work assembled for this exhibit, one will find a coruscating array of style, technique, ingenuity, wit and emotion. What emerges… is the imprimatur of the Push Pin Studios: a graphic language, intellectually diverse, articulate and above all authentic… If now we see throughout the country and abroad influences, adapted images, and flagrant imitation, we need only remember that we now stand at the wellspring.

Black and white photo of a large group of men looking into the camera, mostly smiling

Push Pin Studios group photo

Two black and white illustrations; one of a surreal, jester like figure, and one of a woman viewed from below

Work by John Alcorn

Black and white portrait of Lyndon B Johnson, styled like a paint by numbers poster for Esquire magazine. Text reads "LBJ's birthday is august 27th. Color this portrait, send it to him and make him happy."

Work by Sam Antupit

Three black and white posters; from left to right; How to think straight, with a graphic resembling a mars symbol; Freedom- not license! with an american flag graphic with human heads instead of stars; and suicidal behaviors, with a graphic of a man falling down a shadowed corridor

Work by Vincent Ceci

Two black and white posters; left depicts Che Guevara and reads The spirit of Che lives in the new Evergreen! right poster shows a woman and reads Viva la Huelga

Work by Paul Davis

Black and white collection of various text, decals and icons

Work by Loring Eutemy

Three black and white illustrated posters; from left to right, illustration of a man wearing sunglasses flanked by butterfly wings over a row of palm trees; a man sitting cross legged on a chair; and a finger pointing towards someone

Work by James McMullan

Three black and white posters; from left to right, a graphic of four circles; a tree wit overlapping branchwa; ND A COLLECTION OF THREE DIMENSIONAL NUMBERS

Work by Isadore Seltzer

Black and white photo of a box of boxes of ink canisters. Logo is a black stylized lowercase a.

Ink promotion by Seymour Chwast and Milton Glaser

Even more on our Flickr page, from Ed Sorel, Herb Levitt, Tim Lewis, Reynold Ruffins, Jerry Smokler, Glaser and Chwast.

This post also appears on our Picturebox blog.