The documentary Milton Glaser: To Inform and Delight, which screens 7:30 p.m. Monday at downtown’s Contemporary Arts Center, meanders like a good after-dinner conversation. Which is appropriate, because, in Glaser, it has not just a brilliant designer as a subject but a witty, kindly, philosophical, erudite interview subject whose every utterance is so insightful you want to jot it down. He clearly charmed director Wendy Keys — the film’s loose structure jumps around to accommodate his musings and observations (as well as those of others who admire him). Glaser, now 80 and still active, is primarily known as a graphic designer.
His famous work includes New York magazine (he co-founded it), the “I (Heart) New York” campaign, the Bob Dylan poster that portrayed the singer’s hair like a peacock’s feathers and the logo for microbrew company Brooklyn Brewery. For this and much else, he received the National Medal of Arts from President Obama this year. The film offers insight into the “whys and hows” of this work, although I was disappointed it didn’t delve deeply into the iconic Dylan work. But it also shows how Glaser used signage as a form of architectural design. Less time is spent on his personal life, although there’s enough to see that he and his wife lead an elegant and comfortable existence and that he’s quite a gourmet. This film doesn’t offer as firm a chronological overview of Glaser’s career as one might like, but you do get to experience his intelligence in full flowering. The CAC screening is free and open to the public.
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