This may be the only blog post I ever write in praise of estate agents, particularly as we’re thinking of selling our house and so will be dealing with them on a regular basis. But here goes.
We had one round today for a look, and he was clearly a very nice man because he spent as much time staring at the posters on the walls as at the house itself.
He was also very perceptive. After a long hard look at this Henrion, he pointed out that it really was pop art before its time.
Or at least completely of its time. The LT poster is from 1956. Which is exactly the same year as Richard Hamilton’s iconic collage, Just What Is It that Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing? (I use iconic here in the technical sense, meaning over-represented and over-cited to the point of tiredness, if not actually cliche).
Yes, there are other things going on with the Henrion too. Its angles and sense of speed owe a lot to Rodchenko et al, while its raiding and reworking of Victorian imagery was part of a wider trend in the fifties. But it’s still as genuinely weird as the Hamilton, if not stranger.
Adrian Shaughnessy writes of Henrion, much later on, that
despite his work with government departments and giant corporations, despite his OBE, and despite his eminence within post-war British design, he retained a radical sensibility.
Which, again, is spot on. The whole series of three posters that he produced for London Transport in 1956 are peculiar, not least because theu’re a series which don’t match. Every time I see this poster, I am convinced that it was designed in about 1972, if not later.
Here are a couple more strange ones from his earlier wartime work.
And a reminder that he could also do cute.
All of which means that Henrion deserves rather more credit than he ever gets. He designed the British Leyland logo too,
And, while we’re here, let’s have a cheer for visually literate estate agents too. Let’s hope he can sell houses as well.