Glaser Goes Gauguin

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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 There are countless projects by the master, both produced and unpublished, that are unfamiliar even to design aficionados.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.

From the dustbin of short-lived magazines comes this beautiful cover illustration for Prime Time, alternately subtitled “For the Generation in the Middle” or “Living and Loving After Forty.” The magazine debuted in 1980 and I can’t find evidence that it lasted past 1981 (understandable, given articles like “On Marrying a Younger Woman”).

For an article on returning to the site of the Battle of Bataan in the Philippines, Glaser painted a muted and downcast soldier emerging over a vivid landscape. The sketch and final art are among my favorite pieces in the archives, incorporating the bright, flat color of his earlier work in a more emotionally complex context. The sketch also includes a note from Glaser to someone named Judy, perhaps the art director, asking, “How’s this sort of Gauguinish type of thing?” Glaser often drew upon art historical inspiration, from Duchamp to Magritte to Piero della Francesa, and here Gauguin gets his homage.

This is a case where the reproduction doesn’t do the original work justice. Glaser created these paintings on cardboard, which adds a sepia tone to otherwise vibrant shades of blue, green and orange.

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.