Tag Archives: poster art 150

Poster of the Week – Winter Sales

Winter Sales, E. McKnight Kauffer, 1921
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While the hustle and bustle of the New Year sales may now seem like a distant memory, winter appears reluctant to say goodbye. Perhaps the best remedy for such inclement weather (beyond just staying indoors!) is to go out and indulge in some retail therapy. Not such a new solution, as suggested by this 1921 poster by E. McKnight Kauffer.

Guest Blog by Brian Webb, designer and Visiting Professor at the University of the Arts, London

It would be easy to choose almost any of over 100 posters Edward McKnight Kauffer designed for London Transport, but at the top of the list has to be his 1921 ‘Winter Sales are best reached by Underground’.

Edward Kauffer was born in Montana in 1890 and after an unsettled childhood he left home to become a scene painter in a travelling theatre. By 1910 he was in San Francisco, taking art classes by night and working in a bookshop by day. One of the bookshop’s customers, Professor Joseph McKnight, offered to pay for Kauffer to study art in Europe – this was the time of benefactors who expected nothing in exchange. In recognition of his generosity Kauffer added McKnight’s name to that of his own.

En route for Europe, McKnight Kauffer stopped off in Chicago and saw the 1913 Armory show that had caused a sensation in New York, Americans used to realism were confronted with Cubism, Fauvism and Futurism. Arriving in Europe Kauffer visited Munich, seeing posters by Ludwig Hohlwein, and still with the intention of being a fine artist attended classes in Paris. At the outbreak of the First World War, heading back to New York, he stopped off in London and became involved with current art groups – the Vorticists and Omega workshops.

In 1915 Frank Pick commissioned Kauffer’s first London Transport poster. Kauffer quickly gave up the idea of fine art in favour of poster design. Winter Sales, 1921, is McKnight Kauffer’s ‘graduation piece’. It illustrates all he had learned in his travels. The composition has echoes of Duchamp’s ‘Nude descending a staircase’ that he had seen in Chicago. The monochrome figures and umbrellas lean into the diagonal shafts of rain and snow. The only colour, at the very top right of the image, is the welcoming entrance to the Underground, emphasised by the repeat of red in the line of lettering below.

Brian Webb

As part of the exhibition, the Siemens Poster Vote seeks to find out what your favourite poster is.

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Poster of the Week – Boat Race

Boat Race 1921
Boat Race, Charles Paine, 1921
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The annual Oxford versus Cambridge University Boat Race traditionally marked the start of the London sporting season and was often promoted with a special Underground poster. In his wonderful poster, Charles Paine shows only the tips of the boats and the splashes left by the oars to convey the excitement of the competition. In 1921 Cambridge were the winners by just one length.

Paine’s artistic training began with an apprenticeship in stained glass. Both poster design and stained glass rely on striking colours and strong, simple images. By limiting his palette to just four colours, Paine creates an instantly striking and recognisable image which could have been economically reproduced.

London is a great place to catch some sporting action, and we’ve got plenty of sport posters in our exhibition, Poster Art 150, including another boat race poster from 1928 by Percy Drake Brookshaw. Later in the year we’ll be sharing some of our favourite rugby, football and tennis posters with you in this blog too!

Percy Drake Brookshaw 1928
Saturday March 31st, Percy Drake Brookshaw, 1928

This Sunday the 159th Boat Race will set off from Putney, with Oxford and Cambridge University rowing teams battling it out to the finish in Mortlake. The Cambridge team are currently in the lead, with 81 wins, whilst Oxford has 76. Why not head down to the river this Sunday and cheer on your favourite team!

As part of the exhibition, the Siemens Poster Vote seeks to find out what your favourite poster is.

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Poster Art 150 inspires Graphic Design Students

A guest blog by Gabriel Solomons, Senior Lecturer in Graphic Design at the University of the West of England

Poster 2 Poster 1

Over the past four years the University of the West of England (UWE) has been running a poster project for level 2 BA graphic design students.

Each year UWE aims to tie the project in with a major national or international event (last year the students produced posters for the 2012 Olympics). This year’s commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the world’s first underground railway fitted perfectly, as poster art has always been such an integral part of the London Underground ‘experience’.

Students were therefore asked to produce an A3 screenprinted, two-colour poster promoting the exhibition ‘Poster Art 150: London Underground’s Greatest Designs’ currently on show at London Transport Museum. We were so pleased with the results, that we got in touch with the Museum and they asked us to write this blog entry to explain more about the project.

The design concept for this project is rooted in the traditions of the International Typographic Style, a design style developed in Switzerland in the 1950s. This ‘Swiss Style’ emphasizes clean, dynamic composition, with simple colour schemes and information hierarchy using sans serif typefaces, letterforms and shapes rooted in architectural structure.

Students studied the work of celebrated Swiss Style masters such as Armin Hofman, Joseph Muller-Brockmann and Max Bill. They were also encouraged to research the poster collection on the Museum website, which helped them to contextualize their own work and became an invaluable source of inspiration.

After research, students were supplied with a simple grid format to work with. They also had a given set of type sizes and the Johnston typeface, designed by Edward Johnston in 1916 and well known for its use by Transport for London. Artwork for the poster had to be created in a one-day workshop and prepped for screenprinting the following week. This emphasized the speed with which transport posters often had to be created during the ‘Golden Age’ of poster design in the 1920s and 30s.

‘The work created by our students saw a wide range and variety of approaches. Some students chose to use familiar and recognizable images of trains, escalators and tunnel architecture. Others have taken inspiration from the sound, colour and atmosphere of the Tube’s subterranean environment.

We’ve been really pleased with the students’ work, and it shows they thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of creating work for such an institution as London Transport Museum, and for a hugely significant anniversary. You can see the posters online through the typenowhere site.

Poster of the Week – Speed Underground

Speed Underground, Alan Rogers, 1930

Speed, strength and reliability. Over its 150 year history the Underground’s effective use of publicity posters has created and reinforced a strong visual and corporate identity.  As TfL continues with its vigorous modernisation of the Tube, the message conveyed in Alan Rogers’ ‘Speed Underground’ remains as relevant as ever.

This Modernist poster is a rather dramatic departure from the romanticised landscapes that often featured in Rogers’ designs, displaying bold geometric shapes and lettering. The archer’s quiver and lightning bolt arrow convey speed and accuracy, the stylised roundel and use of colour emphasising powerful organisational branding.

The roundel logo, featuring the bar and circle, first appeared on Underground station platforms in 1908. It has become a unifying symbol of London’s public transport system and an icon of the Capital. Although its use was strictly controlled, poster designers such as Rogers were often granted a degree of artistic license and have playfully incorporated the logo to produce memorable and eye-catching designs.

The archer motif is today echoed in the Art Deco style archer sculpture, by Aumonier, which sits atop East Finchley station on the Northern line. The line is currently undergoing a huge upgrade that will see new state-of-the-art signaling boost capacity by the equivalent of 11,000 additional passengers every hour. See the Tube Upgrade Plan for more information.

As part of the exhibition, the Siemens Poster Vote seeks to find out what your favourite poster is.

Vote Now


Poster of the Week – It Is Warmer Below

It Is Warmer Below, Frederick Charles Herrick, 1927

As winter bites back and the country is gripped once more by sub-zero temperatures, we felt that Frederick Charles Herrick’s design, ‘It is warmer below’, was the perfect choice for our poster of the week. The Underground has always provided shelter from the elements. Created in 1927 during a particularly harsh winter, this poster, with its bright colour contrasts and jaunty message, served as a warming reminder of the benefits of travelling underground. The winter of 1927 brought Christmas blizzards from Kent to Cornwall and a return to wintery conditions in mid-march that can be likened to the present cold snap.

Herrick’s approach to design was unique and the posters that he created for the Underground were some of his most distinctive. He often appealed to the senses when presenting the service as comfortable and efficient, operating beyond the constraints of traffic, road works and the weather. In this example the physical benefits of a subterranean climate, as predictable and constant, are compared favourably with the unpredictable British weather above. In summer this poster was replaced with its seasonal equivalent carrying the message ‘It is cooler below’.

As part of the exhibition, the Siemens Poster Vote seeks to find out what your favourite poster is.

Vote Now


Poster of the Week – Andre Edouard Marty

RAF Display, Andre Edouard Marty, 1933

It’s International Women’s Day today and Mother’s Day this Sunday so we’re celebrating with these two lovely posters from our Poster Art 150 exhibition by Andre Edouard Marty. Dating from 1933, these small panel posters show a mother and daughter enjoying thoroughly modern leisure activities together.

Olympia Motor Show, Andre Edouard Marty, 1933

Panel posters were a temporary solution to advertise specific events. They were created in a small format to save on costs and to enable them to be posted inside Tube cars.

Nearly all of Marty’s panel posters for the Underground feature these two characters of a mother and daughter. Here the elegantly dressed pair are seen gazing at dozens of bi-planes flying in formation at the RAF display and speeding to the Olympia motor show in an automobile.

The annual air show at Hendon attracted huge crowds who were wowed by the flying skills of the daring RAF pilots. The motor show first began in London in 1903 and attracted huge crowds. It may seem strange for the Underground to promote travel by automobile. Cars would have been well beyond the means of many Londoners, but visiting the show was an exciting day out for all which enabled Londoners to catch a glimpse of cutting-edge technology and style.

Marty trained as a fashion illustrator and his work was featured in stylish magazines such as Vogue and Vanity Fair. You can see from these posters his skill in showing the texture and movement of fabrics in these very stylish outfits.

If you haven’t found that perfect present for your mum yet then pop into our shop in Covent Garden where we have some lovely products featuring Marty’s beautiful designs, or why not bring her along to see Poster Art 150 as a treat!

As part of the exhibition, the Siemens Poster Vote seeks to find out what your favourite poster is.

Vote Now


Poster of the Week – Paddington New Station

Paddington New Station, Charles Sharland, 1913

This poster celebrates the opening of the Baker Street & Waterloo Railway (BS&WR) station at Paddington in 1913. Commonly known as the Bakerloo line, the extension to Paddington happened six years after the first branch of the line (from Baker Street to Lambeth North) had opened. The new station had all mod-cons.

The escalators, which were the first on the line, were marketed as a tourist attraction, with Bakerloo line staff equipped with megaphones meeting all incoming trains at the main-line station and shouting  “THIS WAY TO EVERYWHERE. MOVING STAIRCASE IN  OPERATION. THE WORLD’S WONDER”.

The first escalators on the Underground had been installed at Earl’s Court in 1911, and prior to this they had been more commonly experienced as fairground attractions. In the poster, the modern escalators take passengers away from the steam trains of the bustling mainline station and down into the clean, brightly lit station and sleek electric trains.

Charles Sharland, who designed this poster, was an accomplished studio artist. He worked at the printers Waterlow and Sons from the 1900s to the 1920s and completed over 100 designs for the Underground. His designs were equally accomplished when illustrating London’s country or, like here, the sleek modern architecture of London’s Underground.

The station shown here accompanied two other stations that already existed at Paddington. The three Paddington stations all served different lines. In January 1863, the world’s first Underground journey on the Metropolitan Railway started there. Whilst we are celebrating 150 years since the opening of this first underground railway, 2013 also marks the 150th birthday of Princess, the world’s first narrow-gauge steam engine, which served the quarries of Blaenau Ffestiniog in North Wales. Princess has been painstakingly restored by craftsmen at the Ffestiniog Railway and from this Friday 1st March, Princess will be on display at Paddington for six weeks before visiting our Depot at Acton in West London where visitors will have a chance to ride on the footplate.

As part of the exhibition, the Siemens Poster Vote seeks to find out what your favourite poster is.

Vote Now

Poster of the Week – London Transport – Keeps London Going

London Transport – Keeps London Going, Man Ray, 1938

This week’s post features a double poster; London Transport – Keeps London Going. Produced by famous Surrealist and Dadaist Man Ray in 1938 during a brief residence in London, this image is one of the most well-known in our collection.

Featuring the iconic London Transport roundel in the form of a planet, the original image used in the poster is a photogram. The process, first used in the mid-nineteenth century, involves placing objects onto light sensitive paper and exposing them to light, thereby creating a photographic image without the aid of a camera. Man Ray experimented with this technique by varying the exposure times given to different objects within a single photogram and by moving the objects during light exposure. He then renamed the process a rayograph, after himself.

Man Ray was born Emmanuel Radnitzky in America in 1890. His family were Russian Jewish immigrants and changed their surname to avoid further discrimination. Man Ray having demonstrated his artistic skills at school was offered a scholarship to study architecture; he ultimately decided to become an artist.

Man Ray held his first solo show in 1915 and developed an interest in photography with his first notable photographs appearing in 1918. He shunned conventional painting and became increasingly involved in the controversial Dada movement which comprised artists and intellectuals of the radical left who, perturbed by the horrors of World War I, espoused forms of expression that were anti-art, anti-bourgeois and anti-materialism.

In 1921 Man Ray moved to Paris where he became involved with the Surrealist movement, an offshoot of Dadaism. His practice from this point onwards focused primarily on photography and film but also included sculpture and painting. He became involved with important members of the art world including Pablo Picasso, Max Ernst and Gertrude Stein. Forced back to America for a decade due to the Second World War, he now considered Paris home and returned in 1951. Man Ray remained in Paris until his death from a lung infection in 1976 and was buried in the Cimetiere du Montparnasse where his epitaph reads “unconcerned, but not indifferent”.

Our friends at the National Portrait Gallery are holding an exhibition, Man Ray Portraits, until the 27th May featuring over 150 photographic portraits of fellow artists and celebrities including Catherine Deneuve and Pablo Picasso.

This poster and a selection of products featuring Man Ray’s roundel planet are available from our online shop.

As part of the exhibition, the Siemens Poster Vote seeks to find out what your favourite poster is.

Vote Now

Poster of the Week – Brightest London is best reached by Underground

Brightest London is best reached by Underground, Horace Taylor, 1924

We’re so excited to be back with Poster of the Week, to celebrate our new exhibition, Poster Art 150 -London Underground’s Greatest Designs, which is supported by Siemens and opens today.

This week, we’re looking at ‘Brightest London is best reached by Underground’ by Horace Taylor.

At a time when cinemas still showed black and white films, vibrant posters like this splashed colour into 1920s London. The Underground is presented as bright, popular and extremely fashionable. The three escalators were a notable sign of modernity as in 1924, when the poster was created, Bank station was the only station to boast three escalators together.

When escalators were first introduced onto the Underground at Earl’s Court in 1911, many passengers found the new technology a little disconcerting. A man named William ‘Bumper’ Harris, who had lost his leg in an engineering accident, was asked to demonstrate how safe the escalator was. Londoners soon embraced this new means of getting underground, as can be seen here in Taylor’s poster, where a very smart crowd is heading out for a night on the town.

Horace Taylor’s granddaughter once explained that Taylor often liked to paint himself into his posters. In this poster he is the gentleman with the top hat and the beard on the middle escalator.

Still vibrant almost 90 years after it first appeared to brighten Underground stations, we can only imagine how effective it must’ve been at the time.

As part of the exhibition, the Siemens Poster Vote seeks to find out what your favourite poster is.

Vote Now

Designing for the future – 2063

London Transport Museum is running an extremely diverse range of activities in celebration of the Underground’s 150th anniversary. As part of the celebrations, and to complement our upcoming temporary exhibition Poster Art 150 , we recently ran a poster competition in collaboration with the Royal College of Art.

London Underground has a long and very rich history of poster commissioning. For the RCA poster design competition we invited postgraduate vehicle design and visual communications students to reflect on 150 years of Underground promotion whilst also imagining the future of London’s subterranean system. The resulting posters anticipate the Underground’s services and destinations during the 200th anniversary in 2063.

We had some fantastic and incredibly imaginative entries, including promotion of a service that drops you directly to your door, and a transport system where spherical pods carry passengers through an underwater Underground.

Poster designs from the twenty finalists, including the 3 winning entries, are now on display at the Museum. Come take a look!