Thursday, November 3, 2016

E. (Ted) McKnight Kauffer's avantgarde design


Edward (Ted) McKnight Kauffer was one of Europe's most prolific and influential advertising poster artists during the twenties and thirties, and as innovative as his more celebrated French counterpart, A.M. Cassandre.


In England, where he lived and worked, Kauffer was hailed for elevating advertising to high art, yet in America only the design cognoscenti knew of his achievements when the Montana-born expatriate returned to New York City from London in 1940—after 25 years there.


Kauffer had attempted repatriation once before in 1921, when he was invited to show his early posters at New York's Art and Decoration Gallery; at that time he also attempted to find work with American advertising agencies.


In Kauffer's hands the poster (or the book jacket, which for him was a mini-poster) was designed to be interpreted rather than accepted at face value. In this regard he continually struggled with the paradox of how to meet his creative needs, his clients' commercial interests and his viewers' aesthetic preferences, all in a limited period of time (AIGA).