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Detail of portraits of dancers Najinsky and Duncan
Detail of illustrations of Vaslav Najinsky and Isadora Duncan by Milton Glaser.
September 29, 2021

Milton for the USIA

During the early part of the Cold War, Dwight Eisenhower created the United State Information Agency (USIA) to oversee all government information programs that were previously administered by the State Department. By the end of the 1950s, USIA began organizing a series of traveling exhibitions with Russian-speaking American guides to showcase American media and culture. Chermayeff & Geismar were commissioned by AIGA and USIA in 1962 to design the "Graphic Trends" exhibition, which focused on design and illustration. Jay Maisel photographed some of the participants for the portfolio that accompanied the show; Glaser and Seymour Chwast in the Push Pin studio were shot from above.
Glaser and Chwast working in their studio

The "Graphic Trends" project resulted in a portfolio of work by exhibitors, including a wall calendar by Push Pin artists. The calendar featured American and Soviet cultural icons drawn side-by side. Glaser created portraits of dancers Vaslav Nijinksy and Isadora Duncan.
Portraits of dancers Najinsky and Duncan.

On the reverse side, Glaser drew playful portraits of folk heroes Paul Bunyan and Ilya Murometz. The calendar says of Bunyan, “although Paul Bunyan existed only in the imagination of the People, he, like Ilya Murometz, personified a great land.”
Portrait of Ilya Murometz.
Ilya Murometz by Milton Glaser.
Portrait of Paul Bunyan
Paul Bunyan by Milton Glaser.