Push Pin design studio was set up in 1954 when Chwast, Ruffins, Sorel and Glaser were all still art students, and created a vibrant style that quickly set it apart from the more restrained creative work of the time. In an interview with Eye Magazine, Glaser described Push Pin as “a bunch of guys getting together and doing good things”, adding that for the first 15 years, “we were running it like a bunch of art students trying to change history”.
Located on New York’s 32nd Street, Push Pin Studios attracted a steady stream of illustrators and designers through its doors, including Isadore Seltzer and John Alcorn. Its work brought together a vivid mixture of styles, including everything from comic book illustration through to woodblock prints and Art Nouveau. It’s been hugely influential on the careers of many other artists, including Leanne Shapton, who told CR she’d “worshipped” the Push Pin philosophy since a teenager.
The four founding members reportedly wore jackets and ties to the office, but the work that Push Pin produced was far from buttoned up – as this exhibition emphasises. The show explores the development of the studio and its approach – which would later become known as the ‘Push Pin style’.
It includes some now classic pieces of work, such as Milton Glaser’s 1966 Bob Dylan poster, showing the musician with psychedelic, rainbow hair, and Seymour Chwast’s 1967 Visit Dante’s Inferno poster, featuring a particularly jazzy satan.
Not just a hugely influential studio, Push Pin took a stand in a time that held Swiss modernism as the absolute pinnacle of accomplishment, with its work as compelling today as it was 60 years ago.
The Push Pin Legacy is at Poster House, New York until 6 February; posterhouse.org