Introduction by Steven Heller; essay by Paula Scher
272 pages, hardcover, $40, published by Chronicle Books, www.chroniclebooks.com
One would have to have spent a great deal
of time in an isolated locale, not to have come in contact with the prodigious work of Seymour Chwast. Aside from employing images of hats in many of his illustrations, Chwast has worn many different hats throughout his legendary career: designer, illustrator, painter and co-founder of Push Pin Studios.
His revolutionary style has influenced successive generations of designers and illustrators.
This indispensable book offers a small window into a staggering body of work. Chwast lives to draw and, despite his 77 years, continues to produce bold and insightful work. Steven Heller’s masterful introduction combines an interview with Chwast and an essay by his wife, esteemed designer Paula Scher, to form a vibrant portrait of the artist.
Born in 1930, in the Bronx, New York, to Polish immigrant parents, Chwast was a shy, only child who began drawing at the age of seven. He attended WPA-sponsored art classes and gravitated early to commercial art, inspired by comic books and Walt Disney. From a life-changing exposure to art and design at Abraham Lincoln High School in Coney Island, to the prestigious Cooper Union—where he met Milton Glaser and Edward Sorel, with whom he would later form the Push Pin Studios—he developed a unique style that fused concept, humor and his quirky left-handed drawing into an aesthetic that has inspired enthusiastic appropriation.
Gathered here, from thousands of commissions over Chwast’s almost six-decade-long career, are some of the themes that have obsessed him: anti-war messages, cars—almost always showing the rounded lines of 1930’s autos, and they always have fenders—odd celebrities, Brylcreem Man (who represents the white every-man), hilarious “unreliable diagrams and charts,” food, Mexican wrestlers, bras and many more, all created in a variety of media from pen and ink to painted metal sculpture.
Seymour Chwast is a remarkable artist who, despite his fame, never rests on his laurels. His work is as fresh, insightful and provocative today as it was in his early student days. Long may his pen flourish. —Anne Telford