Milton Glaser: To Inform and Delight

"Very Good"

Milton Glaser: To Inform and Delight Review


Roman poet Horace said it best -- at least according to the famed New York graphic designer Milton Glaser. The purpose of art, for Horace, is to inform and delight. Glaser, the New York City renaissance man and founder of Milton Glaser Inc. is certainly the man to carry forth Horace's edict, with the caveat that in Glaser's hands an artist can inform and delight for money. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

If you are a starving artist who is trying to inform and delight without money, director Wendy Keys, formerly of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, will make you forget your hunger and suicidal urges, in her celebration of the life, work and times of New York City's eclectic force of public art and design work in the enthusiastic and breezy homage to Glaser called, appropriately enough, Milton Glaser: To Inform and Delight.

Anyone who has walked down a New York City street has encountered the work of Milton Glaser. His presence is more pervasive than the potholes, pneumatic drills, and dog shit. Glaser was the creator behind the I?NY campaign, the designer of the Grand Union supermarket logo, the brains behind the design of New York Magazine and the Fortune, the Brooklyn Brewery beer labels, and the big nose that lords over the street from the antipasto restaurant Trattoria dell'Arte across from Carnegie Hall. Hell, he even designed the famed Bob Dylan poster from the late sixties with Dylan in silhouette and his hair a colorful fruit salad cascade.

Milton Glaser: To Inform and Delight is mostly a hagiographic monologue by Glaser as Keys follows him around his New York haunts -- restaurants, his studio, his home, museums (one time she follows him down St. Marks Place so he can show her his childhood home, only to discover that it has been torn down). Keys loves the wide-angle lens and she frequently pushes it into his face so that his eyes get larger than life and it looks like he is about to gobble up the camera. But with a subject like Glaser, that is all you have to do. Glaser is personable, erudite and unpretentious, much like his artwork. Glaser holds court on his childhood and how he discovered his passion for drawing, his years at Cooper Union, the creation of New York Magazine, various art projects (Monet, Piero della Francesca), his years as The Underground Gourmet, his work on children's books with his wife Shirley, the evils of George W. Bush and his anti-Bush button designs ('W' Stands for Wrong), and even what a lousy cook his mother was. Glaser is backed up with commentary from numerous collaborators, friends, and family. Keys compliments all this with a crisp slideshow montage of all of Glaser's impressive projects, designs, posters, drawings and paintings. The quantity and depth of Glaser's work is awesome.

At one point in the film, Glaser takes a swipe at "fine artists" who work in solitary confinement to create artworks that find their way (hopefully) into the arms of single purchasers: "I could never get the idea of making a painting that somebody would then put in their house. It seemed weird to me. I wanted to do work that was public, that was on the street, that people saw." And, although Glaser himself possesses fine art that hangs from the walls of his apartment -- weird -- as far as New York City is concerned, he has kept to his vision as a public artist and has made his stamp on his hometown as pervasive as Robert Moses, only less Hitleresque. Glaser has an unfettered love for New York City and this love is reflected in his designs. He remarks,"New York does the job that America is supposed to do." And, at least for Glaser, his designs do the job that art is supposed to do.

And drink some beer.



Milton Glaser: To Inform and Delight

Facts and Figures

Run time: 73 mins

Distributed by: Arthouse Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 80%
Fresh: 12 Rotten: 3

IMDB: 7.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Wendy Keys

Producer: Wendy Keys

Contactmusic


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