Kauffer, E McKnight

Tagged: Art

(1890-1954) US artist and illustrator, in UK from before World War One to 1940; during this period he became well known for the 140 posters he executed for the London Underground during the two decades when its advertising was adventurous. Though he was never identified as an sf illustrator as such, his work – like the nine plates and cover and illustrating The Earl of Birkenhead's The World in 2030 (1930), or covers for Gustave Meyrink's The Golem (1915), Eimar O'Duffy's The Spacious Adventures of the Man in the Street (1928), H G Wells's The New America: The New World (1935) – did convey a haunting, sans-serif, "futuristic" sense of Art Deco Urban Sublime, revealing en passant his Modernist roots and a familiarity with Futurist idioms. Kauffer's interest in the architectonic representation of Icons of Transportation, after the model promulgated by Filippo Tomasso Marinetti and his followers, was career-long, almost all of his post-World War Two commissions being for American Airlines. His work was in fact far more engagedly modern than that of most artists involved in illustrating Genre SF before his active career ended. It was not really until the rather more fluent Richard Powers began his long series of covers for Ballantine Books in 1953 that sf art once again engaged plastically with the twentieth century. [JC]

Edward McKnight Kauffer

born Great Falls, Montana: 14 December 1890

died New York: 22 October 1954


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