Designing the 20th Century: Life and Work of Abram Games

The life and work of Abram Games is to be celebrated next month at a new exhibition marking the 100th anniversary of his birth.

London Transport: London Zoo, 1976 Abram Games

Source: © Estate of Abram Games

London Transport: London Zoo, 1976

The show is to be held at the Jewish Museum London, and will explore Games’ immigrant roots and Jewish background alongside his wealth of graphic design work.

Games’ children Naomi and Daniel have granted access to the family archives to help inform the show, and the pair also co-curated the exhibition.

Black and White photographs of Abram Games in his studio

Source: © Estate of Abram Games

Abram Games in his studio

Games was born in Whitechapel, east London, in 1914. His father was a Latvian photographer and his mother was a seamstress born on the border of Russia and Poland.

Among the iconic designs that cemented Games’ reputation as one of the foremost graphic designers of the 20th century are the emblem for the 1951 Festival of Britain and the 3d stamp for the 1948 Olympic Games, as well as his design for the first ever animated BBC ident.

See Britain by Train, 1951 Abram Games

Source: © Estate of Abram Games

See Britain by Train, 1951

More than 100 pieces will be on show spanning Games’ 60-year career, including original posters, paintings and preparatory sketches, archive objects and photographs.

The museum says, ‘These widely recognisable designs convey a vigour, dynamism and sense of humour that at the outset of Games’s career stood in stark contrast to the limitations of austerity Britain.

‘Games’ skills as a draughtsman, his ability to synchronise texts and visuals, and his flair for colour will be brought into sharp focus.’

Among the objects from Games’ life on show is an airbrush from 1918, which as passed down to Games by his father. This became a key tool to creating Games’ distinctive style.

Join the ATS, 1941 Abram Games

Source: © Estate of Abram Games

Join the ATS,1941

Appointed Official War Poster Artist during World War Two, Games designed more than 100 posters  and these will be on show with a logbook noting all his wartime commissions.

Grow your own Food: Supply Your Own Cookhouse, 1942 Abram Games

Source: © Estate of Abram Games

Grow your own Food:Supply Your Own Cookhouse, 1942

The museum says, ‘[Games] was among the first at the War Office to see footage of Nazi atrocities in the Belsen Concentration Camp. This experience had a profound effect on him, both personally and professionally.

‘Throughout his career he produced a huge number of designs for Jewish organisations, usually on a pro bono basis, once stating, “I feel intensely Jewish. It has contributed to the character of my work”.’

Designing the 20th Century: Life and Work of Abram Games runs from 8 September 2014 – 4 January 2015 at the Jewish Museum London,  Raymond Burton House, 129-131 Albert St, London NW1 7NB.

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