Remembering Tony Palladino

May 15th, 2014

The SVACE community mourns the loss of Tony Palladino, a design legend who taught graphic design courses at SVA for more than forty years.

Tony Palladino at his Masters Series retrospective

A first-generation Italian-American, Tony Palladino was born in 1930 in East Harlem.  He enrolled in the High School of Music & Art, where he met George Lois and Bob Gill, who became lifelong friends, colleagues, and business partners.  In 1949, he studied with Mark Rothko and Robert Motherwell.  In 1950, he joined the Army, serving until 1953.

His fascination with the stark visual realities of New York City eventually motivated him to feature them in his early work. In 1956, Palladino used jagged, fragmented type for an original collage that became the cover art for Robert Bloch’s novel, Psycho (Simon & Schuster).  J. Walter Thompson, Universal’s advertising agency, bought the design to use for the classic film of the same name, while inspiring the Saul Bass animated title sequence.

"Psycho" design by Tony Palladino

Palladino created well-known logos, including Conrail and the celebrated Trattoria restaurant in the Met Life building.  He designed posters for the Cotton Bowl, Mobil Masterpiece Theater, Lenny Bruce on Broadway, La Traviata at the Metropolitan Opera, and many other clients. Some of his best posters are those for the School of Visual Arts, where he has taught Illustration, Design and Conceptual Creativity. Tony also designed a cane-shaped lamp in polished aluminum, conceived from a drinking straw while he sat at dinner.  The lamp eventually became part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art.

SVA posters by Tony Palladino

Tony was inducted into the Art Directors Club in 1987.  He was the 1999 recipient of SVA’s Masters Series Award, for which he exhibited designs, paintings, and sculpture in a retrospective exhibition.

George Lois, former Art Directors Club President and fellow Hall of Fame laureate, has written, “[Tony Palladino] created Pop art before Pop was born, but his images were imbued with thought. Deep thought… Tony is obviously an original. There’s nobody even remotely like him.”

“Love of images and words, inspired by his talent and humanity, were the essence of his incredibly innovative oeuvre. Through his work, Tony Palladino will live forever.”

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Tony Palladino’s work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, the Art Directors Club, Lichtfield Library, and the NYU Gallery. It is part of the permanent collections of the San Marino Museum of Modern Art in Italy and the Thessaloniki Design Museum in Greece, as well as many corporate and private collections.

(Sections of this obituary are taken from SVA’s Masters Series website and the Art Directors Club.)

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2 Responses to “Remembering Tony Palladino”

  1. Nick Biscardi says:

    Tony was a dear friend for 32 years.We shared many memories. I have learned very much as an artist just being around MR P. Always ready to help.He always was thinking outside the box. He saw beauty in everything around him.He will be missed very much. Rest in peace TP.

  2. Charles Davis says:

    Tony was a fabulous artist as well as a good man. I only knew him a short while when he would stop by the Mail Processing office needing assistance for this or that. He was always kind, engaging in small talk. Legendary though he was, his humble nature is what stood out to me, secondary to his great talent.