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Foot fetish
Seymour Chwast Collection: Drawer 37, Item A18. Push Pin Studios change of address announcement, 18 × 26 in., 1980.
January 07, 2013

Foot fetish

Surrealism was central among the numerous historical graphic styles appropriated and reinterpreted by the artists at Push Pin Studios. In these posters (and in countless other examples in Push Pin Graphic), they take the typically surrealist device of anatomical synecdoche (the part representing the whole) and draw it through the contemporary visual language of advertising: the foot by itself is rendered as it might appear in an advertisement for shoes or stockings, but altered—often absurdly—to more wryly reflect the owner of said foot.

Black white and pink illustration of two shoes, a high heel and a loafer. The loafer is drawn to resemble a full tuxedo, while the high heel has a pearl necklace, cleavage, and visible painted toes

Seymour Chwast Collection: Item P3. Print on silvered paper, 9 × 12.5 in.

This print appeared in The Push Pin Style, and here, as there, is difficult to understand through a reproduction: the image is printed on a reflective ground. My (somewhat hastily digitized) version above looks very little like the image in the monograph. (But, I think, conveys in some small way the original’s weirdly-successful color palette.)

Color illustration of a foot stepping on a staircase made of books overlooking a ship on the ocean

Milton Glaser Collection: Drawer 16, Folder 22. Poster for Biblioteca Quinto Centenario, 19 × 28.5 in.

Color illustration of five unique feet stepping on a staircase

Seymour Chwast Collection: Item O16. Crayon and collage on cardboard, 18.5 × 20 in.

Glaser’s examples in particular show a layering of disparate styles and the application of conventionally incompatible formalist devices: below he takes a perhaps more familiarly modernist approach to series and iteration, which he often uses to contextualize and emphasize difference and particularity.

Four panel illustration of different feet in colorful shoes; a simple flat, jester-style, a platform heel and armor

Milton Glaser Collection: Drawer 21, Folder 31. Poster for Morris A. Mechanic Theater, Baltimore; 24 × 36 in. 1979.