Edward McKnight Kauffer American, 1890-1954

Kauffer was one of the most gifted and internationally admired poster artists of the period 1920-50. An American by birth, he studied painting in Paris before the First World War, settled in London in 1914 and dominated the poster hoardings of England between the wars. Kauffer brought a new distinction to advertising design, insisting that the highest visual values should be enlisted in this field. His flair and integrity as a designer, and the brilliance of his personailty, won him an international reputation. Beginning his career as a painter, he was initially influenced by Van Gogh and the French Post-Impressionists. For a period before the First World War he was close to the Camden Town artists, particularly Harold Gilman and Charles Ginner and he adopted their technique of using heavy impasto. In 1919 he became associated with Wyndham Lewis and Group X and in his first wood-engravings such as Flight he showed his interest in Cubism and geometrical design. As a designer, Kauffer's work was seen by an audience of millions and his name became synonymous with posters of radical innovation, superb colour schemes and formidable attracting power. His many clients included Roger Fry, T. S. Eliot and Aldous Huxley who supported his attempt to make advertising 'worthy of the civilization that needs needs it'.