The celebrated graphic designer, Milton Glaser, has unveiled three new public works in the New York City subway stations this week, in direct response to our current political climate and the administrations attack on humanity. On Monday, December 4, the MTA installed his latest campaign on subway platforms all over this city.
Reflecting Glaser’s commitment to justice using art and design to inspire social engagement, three new posters are now added to the School of Visual Arts Underground Images ad campaign. With the three new posters, Glaser has an objective, which is that “although it was implicit in all the other earlier posters – that is, the role of design and art are basically roles that also include social engagement. Not only personal vision or personal talent or personal insight or genius, but also an activity that makes people feel that they are involved in something together. it’s kind of the counterpoint to Trumpism, which is “me for me,” and it’s a sense that we’re part of a larger system, humanity itself. These posters (go) one step further as the threat to that idea becomes more evident with Trumpism.”
The three new posters join a total of more than 200 posters over the past 50 years that promote the College and showcase the individual artist’s vision. The Subway Series featured artists have included such well-known names as Louise Fili, Steven Heller, Stefan Sagmeister and Yuko Shimizu, to name just a few, with Glaser holding the distinction of creating the greater number of posters in this Series, designing 24 of them.
“You cannot say things directly in communication, you have to be oblique or enter into people’s consciousness sideways. Give Help (above) is an attack on that which is becoming increasingly clear: Trump’s real contempt for Puerto Rico, or for people of color, and for anybody in trouble who isn’t white and rich. This poster — a submerged home, and a beautiful quote by Oscar Wilde, conveys that kindness is worth more than the grandest intention. We’ve got to deliver on our promise to help our fellow Americans.”
In the above poster, To Dream is Human, Glaser describes this as ” a bit of an abstraction, but it applies to something quite specific — Trump’s attitude towards immigrants. He refers to them contemptuously as Dreamers and to [their] deportation, that we may throw them out of this country. My attempt here is to transform the worddream, which is used pejoratively by Trump, into an aspirational word. To dream is human; the most, perhaps, important aspect of humankind is the ability to dream.”
In the poster, It’s Not About Me, It’s About We, Glaser will say that “All art ultimately is about collective experience, and ‘art makes us better’ is a reality that I truly believe in. It is the [antidote to] the narcissism and selfishness that exists in human nature. So [this] is a direct reflection of Trump’s attitude toward the world, where everything is about him. Again it’s an attack on this narcissistic, selfish atmosphere that Trump has managed to create. This is an attempt to compensate for that. In the way that art appeals to the most generous part of the human spirit, this is an attack on the most selfish parts of the human spirit.”
Glaser will tell you that “abstract symbolic responses have profound effect on human consciousness, and no where is that more true than with his iconic “I♥NY” logo, which he first introduced in 1977. His love for New York compelled him to update the logo after 9/11 by adding (image above) a stain on the heart, and the addition of the words ‘more than ever.’
Milton Glaser passed away in Manhattan on Friday, June 26, 2020, his 91st birthday.
Check out the Flickr gallery of Underground Images: School of Visual Arts here.