Known as, variously, a modernist exponent of interior design, sceneography, graphic design and illustration, this exhibition will see Edward McKnight Kauffer lauded The Poster King, and rightly so.
Taking in Japanese art, Fauvism, constructivism and surrealism, Kauffer (1890-1954) developed an adaptable style and applied it to commercial poster art.
This exhibition focusses on his time in England between 1914 and 1940 – credited as being his most successful – where iconic London Underground and Shell designs were created in the inter-war years.
It also looks at his early work, which reflects on the aesthetics of Vorticism, Cubism, and Italian Futurism.
Vorticism seems to be something of a leitmotif for Design Week at the moment – with Rose Design working up this poster art for the Tate Britain Vorticists exhibition, and Creative Review holding their Tweet Up at the same exhibition last week.
Born in Montana, Kauffer studied in Chicago and moved to France before settling in England, where in 1915 he was taken on by London Underground.
From here on, ‘the tunnels of the tube became thenceforth his subterranean picture galleries,’ according to Vorticist painter Wyndham Lewis, who also dubbed Kauffer The Poster King.
Kauffer was never an official member of the Vorticist group but he moved in their circles, and many others too, somehow reconciling several emergent stylistic influences with commercial know-how.
The Poster King: Edward McKnight Kauffer will run from 14 September – 18 December 2011 at the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, 39a Canonbury Square, N1