Winter sales, by Edward McKnight Kauffer, 1921

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This poster was commissioned by the Underground Electric Railway Company in 1921. It was designed by Edward McKnight Kauffer and captures the dynamics of a crowd heading through the London rain towards the winter sales. The bold shapes and blocks of flat colour suggest the influence of traditional Japanese woodcuts. The abstract swirl of a coat tail in the wind and the shards of rain that slice diagonally through the composition recall Kauffer's brief association with Vorticism. The image is heavily stylised and demonstrates Kauffer's move towards abstraction. Scattered umbrellas present the only clearly identifiable elements of the composition. The umbrella was used in numerous London Underground posters, particularly in the 1920s. As well as presenting a metaphor for the Underground as a refuge from the English climate, the umbrella's pleasing symmetry lent itself perfectly to the bold geometric style of the time.
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