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E. McKnight Kauffer (American, 1890–1954)

About this artist

Source: Oxford University Press

American designer and painter, active in England. He studied painting first, at evening classes at the Mark Hopkins Institute, San Francisco (1910–12), at the Art Institute of Chicago, with lettering (1912), and in Paris at the Académie Moderne (1913–14). In 1912 he adopted the name of an early patron, Professor Joseph McKnight (1865–1942), as a gesture of gratitude. In 1914 he settled in Britain.

From 1915 McKnight Kauffer designed posters for companies such as London Underground Railways (1915–40), Shell UK Ltd, the Daily Herald and British Petroleum (1934–6). One of his master works, Soaring to Success! Daily Herald—The Early Bird (1919; see Haworth-Booth), was derived from Japanese prints and from Vorticism. In 1920 he was a founder-member of Group x with Wyndham Lewis and others. McKnight Kauffer’s designs included illustrations for T. S. Eliot’s Ariel Poems (London, 1927–31) and for publications by the Nonesuch Press and Cresset Press, using the pochoir process of coloured hand-stencilling (see Stencilling); he also designed photomurals ephemera such as luggage labels; and theatre and ballet costumes and sets, including Checkmate (1937; see Haworth-Booth). He made skilful use of the airbrush and the montage technique, often applying his knowledge of modern art movements such as Constructivism and Surrealism. In 1940 he went to New York, where he designed posters for war relief agencies, the United Nations and American Airlines (1946–53), as well as many book jackets and illustrations.

Mark Haworth-Booth
From Grove Art Online

© 2009 Oxford University Press

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