E. McKnight Kauffer: The Artist in Advertising

Hailed in his lifetime as the "poster king," E. McKnight Kauffer's designs for the London transport system, Alfred Hitchcock, and others are an enduring influence on contemporary advertising and graphic arts.

E. McKnight Kauffer (American, 1890-1954) was a pioneering figure who transformed the field of graphic design between the wars. He drew upon the emerging visual languages of Cubism, Vorticism, and Surrealism to create a modern graphic style that shaped the development of commercial art. Through collaborations with his avant-garde peers in art, literature, and design, including the Bloomsbury Group, Marion Dorn, T.S. Eliot, Langston Hughes, Aldous Huxley, and Man Ray, Kauffer expanded the scope and impact of his field.

This groundbreaking publication is the first to address the full range of Kauffer's career, from sophisticated designs for major clients--including the London transport system, Random House, American Airlines, and Shell, as well as Allied propaganda posters during World War II--to book covers, rugs, costumes, and stage sets. An interdisciplinary group of authors offer critical perspectives on the cultural context of Kauffer's work, bringing new attention to the designer's depictions of race, gender, and global politics.

About The Author

Caitlin Condell is associate curator and head of the department of Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design at Cooper Hewitt. Emily M. Orr is assistant curator of Modern and Contemporary American Design at Cooper Hewitt.

  • Publish Date: October 13, 2020
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Category: Art - Individual Artists - Monographs
  • Publisher: Rizzoli Electa
  • Trim Size: 8-3/4 x 11-3/4
  • Pages: 276
  • US Price: $65.00
  • CDN Price: $85.00
  • ISBN: 978-0-8478-6774-5


"...a superbly designed and illustrated accompanying book..." —DESIGN OBSERVER

"Edward McKnight Kauffer (1890 – 1954) was an American visual artist and designer who was a veritable giant of poster design in the ’20s and ’30s. He spent a lot of time in the United Kingdom, and is perhaps best known for the treasure trove of iconic work he created during his time there. The “poster king” created eye-catching artwork for the likes of the London Underground, Random House, the Great Western Railway, and American Airlines. He also created Allied propaganda posters during WWII. E. McKnight Kauffer: The Artist In Advertising, fresh out from Rizzoli Electa, in association with Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, takes a thorough look at his eclectic poster work as well as his theater stages, book covers, costumes, and even rugs. The inventive designer called upon avant-garde artistic movements like Surrealism, Cubism, Impressionism, and Vorticism to inform his ground-breaking work, which seems diverse in style and technique, and is perhaps hard to pin down to any particular signature style as a result. This impressive new hardcover monograph compliments an upcoming exhibition at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum on McKnight’s catalog. The layout of the book seems to pay tribute to Kauffer’s unorthodox and modern work with its own unusual layout, something I think works tremendously well here. With over 300 color illustrations, an in-depth storytelling, you get a very strong sense of the somewhat dizzying breadth and scope of the poster king’s virtuosic output." — TYPO-GRAPHICAL.COM