Stories

The golden age of poster design - online essay
Simple name : Online essay
Collection : Information
Reference number : 2007/6964

Introduction

During the 1920s and 1930s the Underground Group’s posters reached a peak of stylistic quality.


By 1933, when London Transport was formed, the company was regarded as a leading patron of the arts. Pick’s progressive commissioning policy led to over 40 posters a year.


Pick’s theory behind commissioning was that posters could ‘move from the most literal representation to the wildest impression so long as the subject remained clear’. He knew that traditional posters would reassure the public, but he also recognised that public taste could be extended by exposure to the unfamiliar, the adventurous and even the shocking.


The styles most associated with the golden age of poster design are striking, bold, geometric and abstract. Many artists drew inspiration from avant-garde art movements such as Cubism, Futurism and Vorticism. Their commercial appropriation of such styles introduced elements of modern art to a much wider public than would be possible for a contemporary gallery.


Pick commissioned respected designers of the day, including Fred Taylor, Walter Spadbery, Austin Cooper and Laura Knight, as well as internationally known fine artists, such as CRW Nevinson, Eric Ravilious, Edward Wadsworth, Paul Nash and Man Ray. Pick was not afraid to experiment with undiscovered talent either; commissioning promising newcomers Edward McKnight Kauffer and Graham Sutherland before critically acclaim.


In the 1920s and 1930s, designing a poster for the Underground and London Transport became an honour among both great and aspiring artists. In the interwar years more artists and designers produced posters for them than for any other single company or organisation.


Record completeness :
Record 90% complete

Related items

retail jumpers

Shop

Stand out from the crowd

The whole family can stand out this Christmas with our exclusive London transport-inspired knitwear! Pick up a jumper, scarf or hat with its buses, snowflakes, roundels and Tubes on! Available in adult or children's sizes.

Browse

View down Regent Street at night, with Christmas decorations lit up

What's On

Lights and Sights

Climb aboard a cosy vintage bus and experience the excitement of the city at Christmas! Due to popular demand, we've added an extra day of tours. Tickets are fast selling out! 

Book now

collections OOTM november

Collections

Object of the month

This poster, designed in 1980, was used to promote the Traveller's Perks booklet, offering discounts to travellers during the often expensive festive season. Roundels replace snowflakes in the wintery scene!

Discover more