The British graphic designer, photographer and collector David King (1943-2016) was responsible for some of the most arresting and iconic examples in Modern Art Oxford’s 50-year history. He designed a number of exhibition posters and invitations that not only enhanced the visitor’s experience at the time, but far outlived it. Often preserved in visitors' homes, exhibition posters also continue to enrich libraries, collections and bookshops for decades to come.
Commissioned by former director David Elliott, King created numerous vibrant designs between 1979 and 1985, including such landmarks as Alexander Rodchenko (1979), Vladimir Mayakovsky: Twenty Years of Work (1982), and Art Into Production: Soviet Textiles, Fashion and Ceramics 1917-1935 (1985). Elliott’s choice of designer for these Soviet art exhibitions reflected King’s own interests: By the 1970s, he was already amassing a world-class private collection of Soviet graphics, and his unique style – pulsing with reds and blacks and defined by audaciously patterned compositions – was informed by these revolutionary predecessors. Instantly recognisable, King’s posters and catalogues served to link Oxford’s chain of celebrated Soviet exhibitions while also cultivating connections with contemporary political activism.
David King passed away in May 2016, aged 73. His obituary in the Guardian looks more closely at his life, legacy and the great impact he had on British design in the 20th and 21st centuries.
If you are visiting Oxford in the near future, please pop in to the gallery to see a display of King’s work that showcases his striking designs made between 1979 and 1985.
Donate £45 to our project to own a beautiful reprint of the Rodchenko poster.