I read with interest Michael Johnson’s piece on “why the art of the poster is so neglected in this country” (DW In Print supplement, May 1997).
I support the notion that it is time for a UK poster museum or at least a permanent display area in an existing museum.
Although it is recognised that the art of the poster, the so-called “golden age”, began its life primarily in Paris, it is in the UK that, according to design historian Maurice Rickards, the second golden age emerged. Soon after the First World War British poster design became the envy of the world, and the heritage created by poster designers such as Edward McKnight Kauffer (although an American, he carried out his major work in this country between the wars), Tom Purvis, Austin Cooper and Abram Games has ensured that this reputation lives on, albeit in archives.
If a permanent collection of British posters were on display it would bring to the public’s attention the acknowledged masters of twentieth century graphic design and encourage appreciation of lesser known practitioners such as JS Anderson, Dora Batty or Clifford and Rosemary Ellis.
There is, in fact, a tremendous interest in posters in the UK, with Christie’s holding regular auctions specialising in them. Onslow’s, which also holds specialist poster sales, is organising a poster collectors fair in June and French auctioneer Frederic Lozada is muscling in on the London scene by holding two sales of its own at the end of the month.
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