The Official War Poster Artist during the Second World War, who went on to become the foremost graphic designer of the postwar years, Abram Games was awarded numerous prestigious public commissions during his 60-year career, including creating the first animated BBC ident. He designed the emblem for the Festival of Britain and the 3d stamp for the 1948 Olympic Games. His wartime work, comprising more than 100 posters, included the popular but controversial “Join the ATS” recruiting poster (1941), whose female subject earned it the nickname “Blonde Bombshell”.
Designing the 20th Century: Life and Work of Abram Games will explore Games’s artistic process and feature over 100 objects, from his earliest experiments through to his most celebrated commissions. Coinciding with the centenary of Games’s birth, this exhibition will include original posters, paintings and preparatory sketches. His designs convey a vigour, dynamism and sense of humour that, at the outset of Games’s career, stood in stark contrast to the privations of austerity Britain. He worked extensively with London Transport and his 1976 poster for London Zoo was recently chosen by Londoners as among their favourite posters for London Underground. Games also worked with commercial clients, including Shell, Guinness, The Times and The Financial Times.
A designer whose work helped shape the visual language of British cultural identity in the 20th century, this exhibition also serves to remind us that Games, born to Jewish émigré parents, also had a strong sense of Jewish identity which informed his work, particularly during the war. He was among the first at the War Office to see footage of Nazi atrocities in the Belsen concentration camp. This experience had a profound effect on him, both personally and professionally. He joined the Jewish Relief Unit where he trained volunteers and also designed the badge and three haunting posters appealing for aid. Throughout his career he produced a huge number of designs for Jewish organisations, stating: “I feel intensely Jewish. It has contributed to the character of my work”.
8 September – 23 November, Jewish Museum London, Raymond Burton House, 129-131 Albert St, London NW1 7NB. Visit www.jewishmuseum.org.uk
1. Abram Games courtesy of Jewish Museum London