Designing the 20th Century: Life and Work of Abram Games
8 September 2014 – 18 January 2015
Curated in conjunction with Games’ children, who have allowed the museum unprecedented access to the family archives.
Abram Games was born in Whitechapel, London to Jewish immigrants the day after the First World War began in 1914. He studied at Saint Martin's School of Art but left after just two terms and began working as a studio assistant at a design firm, while also taking night classes in life drawing.
After getting fired from his job for jumping over a group of chairs as a prank, he began working as a freelance poster artist, producing bold and colourful graphic designs for London Transport and other clients. This exhibition includes a selection of his most celebrated pieces, drawn from across his career.
During the Second World War, Games was chosen as an official poster artist and worked on campaigns for Auxiliary Territorial Service recruitment and wartime safety. Combining stark images with clear typography, his designs became instantly iconic and are still among the most recognisable today.
In the post-war years, Games' career went from strength to strength and he was commissioned to create posters for the Financial Times, Guinness, the Olympic Games and the United Nations, among others. Praised by the Guide to the World's Greatest Illustrators for his use of 'striking colour, bold graphic ideas, and beautifully integrated typography', he is widely considered to be one of the best graphic designers of the 20th-century.
Interestingly, the display also reveals that Games designed a series of objects, including a coffee maker and a copying machine.
Discussing his cultural heritage, Games once said 'I feel intensely Jewish. It has contributed to the character of my work'. Exhibits on display reveal the huge amount of work he did for Jewish organisations and Jewish causes, mostly for free.