The Milton Glaser Design Study Center and Archives has acquired more than 400 works by the New York artist and designer Tony Palladino. Through a gift of the artist, the Tony Palladino Collection will be held at the School of Visual Arts (SVA) for preservation and research alongside previously acquired collections of work by legendary designers Milton Glaser, Ivan Chermayeff and Tom Geismar, Henry Wolf and Ed McCabe.
A former student of Mark Rothko, Robert Motherwell and William Baziotes, Tony Palladino has worked on numerous high-profile advertising campaigns, identity systems and book jackets, and authored two children's books. He is a laureate of the New York Art Directors Hall of Fame and is represented in the design collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York. The artist's work is known to millions of New Yorkers through SVA's longstanding subway poster campaign. Having created some of the campaign's earliest designs, Palladino now teaches a course at SVA on the history and technique of poster design. He has been on the faculty since 1958.
The Tony Palladino Collection contains 180 sketches and pieces of original art, 30 posters, and over 200 printed examples of his design and illustration work, including book jackets, logos, advertisements, periodicals, promotional materials, and cards.
Tony Palladino was born in East Harlem in 1930 to Italian immigrant parents. In 1946 he enrolled at the High School of Music & Art, where he took classes in art, sculpture, typography and design and first made the acquaintance of future collaborators Bob Gill and George Lois. By 1949 he was studying with Mark Rothko and Robert Motherwell, but military service interrupted his endeavors, and he did not return to the graphic arts until 1953.
Palladino's first major commercial projects were book jackets he designed as a freelancer, largely for publishers Simon & Schuster; Knopf; Doubleday; and Little, Brown and Company. It was in this period that he first exhibited the witty, graphically austere and conceptual style that would later become associated with him. A typical example is the jacket design for the 1959 Robert Bloch novel Psycho. Neatly-set sans serif text spelling the title is torn lengthwise, as if a piece of paper, suggesting both violence and dissociation. When the advertising firm J. Walter Thompson was hired to produce the promotional materials for the Alfred Hitchcock adaptation of the book two years later, they purchased Palladino's design outright and cast it as the logotype on all of the movie's promotional materials.
In the sixties, Palladino moved closer to the center of the New York design world. In those years he shared a studio space with illustrator R.O. Blechman; studied at Yale with designers like Robert Brownjohn and Ivan Chermayeff, with whom he would maintain long and fruitful relationships; and was hired by George Lois as an art director at his firm Papert, Koenig, Lois. Though Palladino's work in this period was comprised mostly of promotions, identity design, and advertising, he also continued to experiment in different media. In 1965, a curved aluminum lamp he designed was accepted into the collection of the Museum of Modern Art.
Palladino's teaching career began in 1958, when Bob Gill recommended him to SVA founder Silas H. Rhodes, and he was invited to teach advertising design. A year later, he designed a subway poster for the College, which depicted a paint-by-numbers ballerina loosely overpainted in oil with a flower pot-a tidy visual summary of Palladino's outspoken views about originality and creative expression.
Since then, Palladino has continuously taught at the School of Visual Arts, and exhibited his work widely. In 1985, he held a one-man retrospective exhibit at the Visual Arts Gallery, and was exhibited again in 1999, as a recipient of SVA's Masters Series Award. He has also been featured by the International Design Conference in Aspen, inducted into the Art Directors Club Hall of Fame, and honored by the American Institute of Graphic Arts and the Type Directors Club. He is represented in public collections around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the San Marino Museum of Art, Italy; and the Thessaloniki Design Museum, Greece. He lives in New York City.
Tony Palladino will lecture on his work and career on Thursday, October 2 at 10:30am. The event will take place at SVA, 3rd-floor amphitheater, 209 East 23 Street, New York City. Admission is free and open to the public.