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The Underground Movement

dynamic set of vintage posters celebrates 150 years of The Tube...

The Underground Movement
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With very little chaff to sort from the wheat it was a tough process, but the final selection – named Poster Art 150 – is a wonderfully interesting chronicle of both the transport system and London society in a larger sense...

The lure of the Underground (detail),
by Alfred Leete, 1927

When a collection of posters was chosen for an exhibition to mark a milestone anniversary of the London Underground, the experts responsible were mining a rich vein – there were over 3,000 examples to pick from in the London Transport Museum’s archives.

To make the selection a cast of artistic notables were drafted in from institutions such as Central Saint Martin’s College and Christies. With very little chaff to sort from the wheat it was a tough process, but the final selection – named Poster Art 150 – is a wonderfully interesting chronicle of both the transport system and London society in a larger sense. The collection features work from every decade of the timespan and includes work by artists such as Paul Nash and Edward McKnight Kauffer.

As well as the obvious visual style of the poster artwork, another aspect of interest to students of graphic design and language is the latter’s changing use over the years. We see instructions on etiquette move from pleading politeness to the bluntness of imperative verbs. Older posters credit their readers with a greater attention span too, generally using more words and greater complexity of grammar. See Poster Art 150 at London Transport Museum before 27th October. Please.

Poster Art 150

The quickest way to the dogs,
by Alfred Leete, 1927

Poster Art 150

London 2026 AD; this is all in the air,
by Montague B Black, 1926

Poster Art 150

Behind the seen; at London’s service,
image, by James Fitton, 1948

Poster Art 150

Cycle and Motor Cycle Show,
by Charles Burton, 1930

Poster Art 150

Brightest London is best reached by Underground,
by Horace Taylor, 1924

Poster Art 150

Fly the Tube,
by Geoff Senior, 1979

Poster Art 150

Winter sales are best reached by the Underground,
by Edward McKnight Kauffer, 1922

Poster Art 150

Keeps London going,
by Man Ray, 1938

All Images © TfL from the London Transport Museum collection

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