The Glaser Nobody Knows: Milton and the Mad Man

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The Glaser Nobody Knows is a new column featuring work by Milton Glaser that you may never have seen before. There are countless projects by the master, both produced and unpublished, that are unfamiliar even to design aficionados. All of the items in this column are part of The Milton Glaser Design Study Center and Archives at the School of Visual Arts, the chief repository of his legendary work.

One of the nerdy delights I take in the Glaser Archives is uncovering the web of Glaser’s friends and clients, particularly those with whom he worked repeatedly. Here we have a few projects for (Whitney) Lee Savage, who was a good friend of Glaser’s. Savage was an accomplished realist painter whose works are in the permanent collections of the Whitney, Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Newark Museum, among others. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Savage was the subject of 10 solo exhibitions at the Krasner Gallery in New York City. Glaser designed the invitation for at least one of these shows, in 1964.

In addition to his fine arts pursuits, Savage collaborated with Glaser in his capacity as an art director and animator. In 1965, Savage co-founded Savage Friedman, a film production company. The logo, designed by Glaser, is the color of old newsprint, contrasting nicely with the more spare and informal style of the brochure announcing personnel changes to the business.

Later, in 1968, Glaser designed a lovely Christmas poster for Savage Friedman, featuring one of his trademark inkblot figures, this time a Santa, in a colorful snowstorm.

The most interesting Glaser-Savage collaboration was the underground short “Mickey in Vietnam.” Directed by Savage and designed and produced by Glaser, the one-minute silent animation depicts Mickey Mouse being shot and killed in Vietnam. The film was produced for the Angry Arts Festival, which invited artists to create works to protest the Vietnam War. The film disappeared for many years but then resurfaced on YouTube in 2013.

Like many other great illustrators, designers and animators of the time, Savage also did lots of work for “Sesame Street” and “The Electric Company” in the 1970s. He created numerous shorts, including “Harry Works High in the Sky” and a series of animations featuring a hand creating a drawing, each one offering a mini lesson on perspective.

On the subject of that work, here’s a lovely remembrance by his son Adam Savage (of MythBusters fame).

Beth Kleber is the founding archivist of the Milton Glaser Design Study Center and Archives and the School of Visual Arts Archives in New York City. Kleber also curated the exhibition Primary Sources: Documenting SVA and the New York Art World 1966–1985.” She lectures on design history and research, and assists students and researchers with inquiries on everything from Push Pin Studios to the activities of the renowned artists who have taught at SVA. Kleber has also worked in trade publishing and began her librarian and archivist career at New York Public Library. For more from the Glaser/SVA Archives, head to Instagram.