Glorious Devon, S.P.B. Mais, Great Western Railway Company, 1934. Cover design by Edward McKnight Kauffer

The E. McKnight Kauffer 1955 Exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum by F.H.K Henrion

A review of the memorial exhibition of Edward McKnight Kauffer at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1955 by F.H.K. Hernion

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Orginal article and images scanned from Design, Council of Industrial Design, 83, November 1955

WITH A PAINTER’S HEART and a designer’s mind E. McKnight Kauffer did more than any other person for graphic design in this country.

For this, commerce and industry, the design profession and the public at large will always be in his debt. Kauffer died in the USA last year (1954) where he had lived since 1941.

Although an American by birth, the bulk of his work between the two wars was carried out in this country where he profoundly influenced graphic design. He was fascinated by paintings and by the way new tendencies in the fine arts could be applied to poster design and advertising. His best-known work is for London Transport and Shell-Mex, but he also illustrated many books and designed ballet décors which are as alive today as they were when created 20 years ago (1940s).

Glorious Devon, S.P.B. Mais, Great Western Railway Company, 1934. Cover design by Edward McKnight Kauffer
Glorious Devon, S.P.B. Mais, Great Western Railway Company, 1934. Cover design by Edward McKnight Kauffer

He produced many designs for textiles and rugs which anticipate present day trends and show how he was able to apply his talent for graphic art equally successfully to other spheres of design. The exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum is sponsored by the Society of Industrial Artists with the support of the Royal Society of Arts and many former clients and friends.

F. H. K. HENRION

Kauffer's posters for London Transport cover the whole period between the first and second World Wars and reflect vividly the development of the poster during that time. They also show the influence of various movements in painting, ranging from cubism to futurism and surrealism.
Kauffer’s posters for London Transport cover the whole period between the first and second World Wars and reflect vividly the development of the poster during that time. They also show the influence of various movements in painting, ranging from cubism to futurism and surrealism.

 

Leaflet for the Orient Line and Catalogue for Shell. Designed by E. McKnight Kauffer
Leaflet for the Orient Line and Catalogue for Shell. Designed by E. McKnight Kauffer

 

'The Early Bird' commissioned for the 'Daily Herald' in 1920 is more compelling and satisfying than almost any poster we see today.
‘The Early Bird’ commissioned for the ‘Daily Herald’ in 1920 is more compelling and satisfying than almost any poster we see today.

E. McKnight Kauffer 0002 Scan 214 copy 5 jpg

The scope of his work in other fields than that of the graphic arts is an inspiration to those who believe that designers need not be pigeon-holed into any particular medium.

PATRIOTISM LTD, An exposure of the War Machine, Union of Democratic Control, 1933. Cover design by McKnight Kauffer.
PATRIOTISM LTD, An exposure of the War Machine, Union of Democratic Control, 1933. Cover design by McKnight Kauffer.

 

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