• Underground-lead

    Alfred Leete: The Lure of the Underground (detail)

London Transport Museum shows 150 beautiful and innovative Tube posters

Posted by Anna Trench,

For over a century posters have been brightening up the dark walls of the Tube. Beautiful, striking and informative they’re the best public art to have come out of the tunnels. The London Transport Museum is celebrating the Tube’s 150th birthday with a fascinating exhibition of 150 posters dug out of its archive. When seen together, these posters not only tell the story of the Underground, they tell a story of London and graphic design, too.

The range is magnificent. From idyllic watercolours encouraging escapes to the country to typographical experiments urging congestion reduction, they trace the fashions and anxieties of Londoners while also revealing the artistic styles of the time and London Underground’s eagerness to commission beyond it.

Museums, sporting events and the zoo are consistently popular subjects. But there are many surprises, too, such as Maurice Beck’s dark photomontage reassurance that all trains are fitted with a “dead man’s handle” and John Henry Lloyd’s poster of Edwardian Londoners admiring Underground posters. Although the 1930s was the richest period, every decade produced gems. Highlights include illustrator Edward Bawden’s intricate Map of the British Empire Exhibition (1924), Edward McKnight Kauffer’s numerous Bauhaus-inspired designs, Alfred Leete’s cartoons, Man Ray’s planet-orbiting roundel (1938), Charles Paine’s penguins (1921) and many, many more. Definitely worth a stop.

Poster Art 150 – London Underground’s Greatest Designs is at the London Transport Museum until October 27.

  • 118.-for-the-zoo-book-to-regent's-park_-by-charles-paine_-1921

    Charles Paine: For the Zoo Book to Regent’s Park (1921)

  • 82.by-underground-to-fresh-air_-by-maxwell-ashby-armfield_-1915

    Maxwell Ashby Armfield: By Underground to Fresh Air (1915)

  • Img-220--133.-it-is-warmer-below_-by-frederick-charles-herrick_-1927

    Frederick Charles Herrick: It is Warmer Below (1927)

  • 132.-it-is-cooler-below_-by-frederick-charles-herrick_-1926

    Charles Frederick Herrick: It is Cooler Below (1926)

  • Img-207---23.-keeps-london-going_-by-man-ray_-1938

    Man Ray: Keeps London Going (1938)

  • 124.-the-lure-of-the-underground-by-alfred-leete-1927

    Alfred Leete: The Lure of the Underground (1927)

  • 94.-uxbridge_-by-charles-paine_-1921

    Charles Paine: Uxbridge (1921)

  • Img-226---13.-four-times-the-number-carried_-by-theyre-lee-elliott-1936

    Theyre Lee Elliot: Four Times the Number Carried (1936)

  • 58.-play-between-6-and-12_-by-edward-mcknight-kauffer_-1931

    Edward Knight Kauffer: Play Between 6 and 12 (1931)

  • 122.-something-different-at-every-turn_-by-roy-meldrum_-1933

    Roy Meldrum: Something Different at Every Turn (1933)

  • 74.-kennel-club-show_-by-tom-eckersley-and-eric-lombers-1938

    Tom Eckersley and Eric Lombers: Kennel Club Show (1938)

  • Img-223--79.-olympia-motor-show-by-andre-edouard-marty-1933

    Andre Edouard Marty: Olympia Motor Show (1933)

  • 78.-the-quickest-way-to-the-dogs_-by-alfred-leete_-1927

    Alfred Leete: The Quickest Way to the Dogs (1927)

  • Img-209--55.-where-is-this-bower-beside-the-silver-thames_-by-jean-dupas_-1930

    Jean Dupas: Where is this Bower Beside the Silver Thames (1930)

  • Img-211--75.-the-zoo-by-floodlight_-by-tom-eckersley-and-eric-lombers_-1935

    Tom Eckersley and Eric Lombers: The Zoo by Floodlight (1935)

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Posted by Anna Trench

Anna is a writer and illustrator who joined us as an editorial intern after studying at Cambridge University and Falmouth university. She wrote for the site between January and March 2013.