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Poster Art

Our new project for all our groups will be inspired by the work of the 1930’s poster artist Leslie Carr. The simplified use of shapes  and harmonious  colour in the paintings is, paradoxically, very much of its time but also quite contemporary!

‘Leslie Carr was a painter and poster designer. Born in London, during World War I, Carr served as a Lieutenant in the Tank Corps. He received no formal art training but, naturally talented, he went on to design many architectural, marine and river scenes and by the late 1920s was a successful commercial artist. He also produced numerous posters including for Southern Railway, London & North Eastern Railway and British Railways. He also drew for Morris cars and Motor Magazine and designed the poster 'Holidays Abroad: Normandy & Brittany' in 1931, and also designed posters for London County Council Tramways. During World War II, Carr served as a fireman and participated in a number of exhibitions by firemen artists. Carr was a member of the Society of Marine Artists and he died in Hove, Sussex.’ (Artuk) 

The more I look at their work, the more I appreciate their drawing skills, use of colour, and wonderful compositions. I made some reference to how these artists were influenced by Post Impression, and the Fauvist artist Andre Derain. I’ve added a painting by Derain, as well as a New Brighton poster to illustrate this connection in terms of colour, the use of shapes, and composition.

Early Railway Posters

‘Early railway posters were produced by letterpress and consisted of text with no images. It was once lithography printing became cheaper in the twentieth century that we began to see little vignettes and, eventually, the large scenes we've become familiar with on these posters. The posters advertised for various rail companies and the destinations they serve.The optical simplifications of flat colour required the careful consideration of how two-dimensional shapes were understood through the cognitive mechanisms of perception as three-dimensional space. In practice, this depended on the careful consideration of the use of black as a key to both printing and perception.

Anyone who has seen a series of progressive proofs of posters will recognize the magic of how the design becomes unified through the addition of the final black. Somehow, the black printing tricks the eye into understanding the different areas of flat color as distributed in space. This powerful visual trick also had the effect of implying a heightened level of illumination. In its most extreme form, the poster appears as bright as if the scene was illuminated from within. This lighting is perfect for rendering views associated with seaside and open air—the traditional subjects of the railway poster.’ (ArtUK)

 More information is available via this link. 

In practical terms, the large-scaled lithographic presses used to produce the railway posters were, even in the 1930s, old machines which perished in the use of litho stones and maintained the craft traditions of hand-drawn colour separations and carefully judged colour effects. The process of Lithography is detailed via this web site


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