Art for All: British Posters for Transport

Thursday, May 27, 2010
Sunday, August 15, 2010

In 1908 the London Underground (officially the Underground Electric Railways Company of London, later the London Passenger Transport Board, or LPTB), under the leadership of Frank Pick, began an aggressive promotional campaign that became one of the most successful, adventurous, and best sustained branding operations ever attempted. This poster campaign not only encouraged ridership on the public transport system, but also helped to foster a civic identity for the city of London, and the more than five thousand images produced include some of the greatest achievements of poster art. According to art historian Nikolas Pevsner, writing in 1942, “No exhibition of modern painting, no lecturing, no school of teaching can have had anything like so wide an effect on the educationable masses as the unceasing production and display of LPTB posters of the years 1930–40.”

The gift to the Center by Henry S. Hacker (Yale College, Class of 1965) of his major collection of transport posters provided the occasion for an examination of these extraordinary works. Art for All featured more than one hundred outstanding posters executed for both the Underground, by designers such as Edward McKnight Kauffer, Frederick Herrick, and Hans Schleger, and for the British railways by designers such as Tom Purvis and Frank Newbould. The exhibition explored the evolution of transport posters in twentieth-century Britain, highlighting specific features such as the career of Kauffer, the work of women artists, how the posters were initially displayed, and the larger implications of these advertising campaigns.

Horace Taylor, To Summer Sales by Underground (detail), Commissioned by Underground Electric Railways of London Ltd., Printed by Vincent Brooks, Day & Son, Ltd., 1926, lithograph, Yale Center for British Art, Gift of Henry S. Hacker, Yale BA 1965


Art for All
was organized by the Center and curated by Teri J. Edelstein, Principal, Teri J. Edelstein Museum Strategies. The organizing curator at the Center was Scott Wilcox, Chief Curator of Art Collections and Senior Curator of Prints and Drawings.

Venues

Yale Center for British Art:
May 27–August 15, 2010

Musée de l’Imprimerie, Lyon, France:
October 15, 2010–February 13, 2011

The Wolfsonian, Florida International University:
April 15–August 14, 2011