Page 16 - November 2016
P. 16

| E McKnight Kau?er - a designer and his public |

This biography of a gifted and                  His life ended sadly. World War 2
        internationally admired graphic       meant that commissions in England
        designer ?rst appeared in 1979 and    virtually dried up and, having retained
was revised, updated and republished in       American citizenship, he was regarded as
2005 by V&A Publications.                     an alien and felt unwanted. He returned
                                              to America in 1940, without his wife
  Born Edward Kau?er, Edward McKnight         and daughter, but longed to be back in
Kau?er was a proli?c graphic designer         England which he said was “truly the light
who was born in America in 1890.              of the civilised world” and where he had
Despite a poverty-stricken childhood          many friends. 1940s America was not
that included living in an orphanage for a    the idealised country he remembered as
couple of years, he always showed artistic    a young man and the style of work he had
talent. When he was 22 a wealthy patron       developed in England did not appeal to
named Joseph E McKnight gave him the
opportunity to study art                                             American advertisers:
in Paris and, in tribute to                                          with the exception
him, Kau?er adopted his                                              of some high-pro?le
name. World War 1 made                                               commissions such
Paris an unsafe place to                                             as those for the
live so, newly-married,                                              US Treasury and
Kau?er and his wife                                                  the Red Cross, his
moved to England in 1914.                                            work was mainly for
                                                                     institutions, and the
  To start with he had                                               public was less aware
great di?culty ?nding                                                of it. Disillusionment
work but in 1915 he                                                  and broken personal
gained a commission                                                  relationships led to
to design posters for                                                increasing alcohol
London Underground                            consumption and destruction of his health
Railways. At last he had found a niche and    although, despite being very sick, he
by 1921 his interest in designing artistic,   worked until his death in October 1954.
high quality posters had moved him from         This book contains plenty of detail
being a painter who also designed to being    about Kau?er’s personal life, but its
a widely-recognised graphic designer.         richness lies in its illustrations – 90 colour
He continued to do designs for LUR for        plates re?ecting his talent and the wide
25 years but also had many other high-        scope of his work over almost 40 years.
pro?le clients including Shell, BP, GWR,      As examples of lithography they are
American Airlines and a number of well-       impressive – as a portfolio of one man’s
known London stores, and his posters          lifetime’s work they are exceptional. This
were seen by millions of people worldwide.    book is available for loan from the BPS
                                              Library and if, having read it, you yearn
  Kau?er claimed to have an awareness         for a copy of your own to keep, you will
of the e?ects of pattern and colour that      ?nd it reasonably priced from well-known
escaped many other designers and he           internet booksellers.
suggested that the impact of a well-                         Libby Green - Librarian (7614)
designed poster could be as great as that of
a shiny red ?re engine racing past at high
speed.

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