London is celebrating 150 years of its underground system, and pulling out all the stops. First, was the announcement of permanent artwork by Mark Wallinger to be displayed in stations, and now comes an exhibition by the London Transport Museum showing 150 posters that have been created for the transportation service over the years.
London tube posters have always been notable for using a commercial platform to display unique and interesting works of art. These are not mere advertisements and PSAs, they are a history of graphic design and artistic style.
Trawling through 3,300 posters, experts chose 150 pieces that most vividly expressed the cultural vibrancy of the city. The exhibition include designs by famous artists such as Man Ray (above) and László Moholy-Nagy and is shown thematically including ‘Brightest London’ (nights out and sporting events), ‘Finding your way’ (maps, etiquette and reassuring messages), ‘Love your city’ (the best of the capital’s landmarks’ and ‘Keeps London going’ (developments, technology, improvements etc).
Although Londoners may grumble about it, the tube is the heart of the city, carrying two million people a day through its tunnels. An exhibition highlighting the artistic commissions of the underground is a fitting anniversary present to its city-dwellers.
If you are in London, pop by: Poster Art 150 – London Underground’s Greatest Designs is at the London Transport Museum until October 27.
See some posters below: