Horses, sorry, modernism for all

Crownfolio is thinking of going to France.  Actually, I’ve been thinking about my holidays for some time, but now it looks as though I’m going to have to plan another trip as well, and all because of this exhibition.

It’s called Art for All, and it’s an exhibition of British transport posters at the Yale Center for British Art, which is a part of the University.

Now at first I found myself a bit surprised and bemused that Yale could be bothered to have a collection of transport posters (a bequest, apparently see below*).  But then I look at something like this 1932 Newbould,

Frank Newbould Harrogate vintage railway poster 1932

and realise that it’s not a million miles away from a Stubbs or a Gainsborough in its depiction of a very specific kind of horsey Britishness.

To be fair to them, though, the exhibition – or at least the collection of images that they’ve chosen to promote it – isn’t packed to the gills with landscapes and posh people.  In fact, if anything, it’s more on the side of modernism.    There’s plenty of McKnight Kauffer, and also these delightfully a-typical Newboulds from 1933 (I wonder if he got bored of fields, villages and market towns too).

Frank Newbould, East Coast Frolics 1933

The Jazz Age made incarnate by fish.  You can’t beat that, can you.  Or this Tom Purvis, with an unusually subtle colour-scheme.

Tom Purvis East Coast LNER poster  1928

I also like the fact that the curators don’t seem to believe that all good design evaporated after the Second World War.  They’ve included this 1956 Unger,

Unger Tower of London vintage London transport poster 1956

As well as this even later – 1965 – Abram Games.

Abram Games vintage London Transport poster

Even better, they’ve not just gone for name designers and known posters.  Also included is this 1933 gem by Anna Katrina Zinkeisen.

Zinkeisen_Mortor-Cycle-and-Cycle-Show, vintage London Transport poster, 1934

All of these were part of the Henry S Hacker bequest to Yale.  I think I rather like his taste.

So, if you are in the U.S., it would be worth quite a detour to see this lot  – and more, there are over 100 in the show in total.  The show runs from next week until August 15th, so you’ve got plenty of time.  And if you do make it, I’d love to hear what it’s like.

If you’ve been wondering in the meantime why I’m thinking French thoughts, it’s because the exhibition transfers to the Musée de L’Imprimerie, Lyon, France: October 15, 2010–February 13, 2011.  Which is slightly more accessible by Eurostar than Yale.

But if even that seems too daunting, there’s also a book – Art for All: British Posters for Transport (Yale Center for British Art).  More on that when it arrives.

*Thanks to a very forgiving email from Henry Hacker himself, I now know that it isn’t a bequest, and that Henry Hacker is still very happily collecting posters.  Which makes his gifts even more generous.

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