June 1, 2008

Seymour Chwast and Push Pin Studios

I recently found this 1971 FSG edition of Knut Hamsun's second book, Mysteries (1892). Another enjoyable cover by Seymour Chwast (see my previous posts).***

I also discovered an incredible collection of Push Pin's work: The Push Pin Graphic: A Quarter Century of Innovative Design and Illustration. The hardcover edition seems to have been remaindered, so the thrifty (at least the thrifty with shelf space) can pick it up dirt cheap.

It focuses on excerpts from the studio's periodical The Push Pin Graphic (back issues still available from their website). Many issues have a literary theme, for instance, number 11 from 1957 includes Apollinaire's poems "Heart" and "Crown" typeset in the shape of Apollinaire by Milton Glaser (Glaser and Edward Sorel founded Push Pin with Chwast). This is only a partial, poor scan; you'll have to buy the book to read the poems.

Here is Milton Glaser's portrait of Kafka, which accompanied Philip Roth's 1972 essay on the author in Push Pin 59 from '74 (my scan does not do justice to the colors):

The book's product description: "Part design and illustration studio, part pop culture think tank, Push Pin Studios made a phenomenal impact on visual culture from the 1950s to the 1980s, representing an important chapter in postwar graphic design. Founding member Seymour Chwast partners with key figures from the design community -- as well as co-founder Milton Glaser -- to provide a visual history of the studio by way of its signature publication, The Push Pin Graphic. Hundreds of memorable covers and spreads culled from each of the eighty-six inspired and imaginative issues confirms Push Pin's vital role in setting the design curve and influencing the direction of modern visual style. The Push Pin Graphic is the first comprehensive account of a design milestone that continues to influence designers to this day."

I'm waiting for this (seemingly out-of-print) book to arrive, The Left-Handed Designer, which will hopefully include more of Chwast's book covers.

***July 15, 2008 update: back in September 2007, the blogger Rather Ripped suggested that I check out the cover of this Hamsun edition. I like how our digital memories point out the holes in our actual memories.

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