Edward McKnight Kauffer

Edward McKnight Kauffer (American, 1890-1954)

Edward McKnight Kauffer was born in Great Falls Montana. After the breakdown of his parents marriage he was placed in an orphanage and it was only in 1912 that he could afford to follow an artistic career when he met Joseph McKnight, a professor at the university of Utah, whose name he adopted. he studied at the Art Institute of Chicago (1912-1913) while working as a scene painter and then spent time in France and Germany. In 1914 he settled in England with his wife Grace, first in Durham and then London where he began work as an advertising artist producing labels and posters for a number of companies. He achieved lasting fame in England for his brilliant designs which included textiles, furnishings and a number of dust-jacket images for books. In 1919 Kauffer formed Group X with Wyndham Lewis which provided the opportunity to exhibit work at the centre of London’s avant-garde movement and he was responsible for raising the standard and profile of commercial art more than any other artist in this country. Examples of his work are held in a number of public collections, including The Government Art Collection, V & A, London Transport Museum, Cooper-Hewitt Museum, and MOMA. Retrospectives of his work have been held at the V & A (1955) and MOMA (1937).

References: Mark Haworth-Booth. E. McKnight Kauffer: a designer and his Public (1979), Catalogue to the Memorial Exhibition of E. McKnight Kauffer (V & A, 1955), Horne: 269; Mary Ann Caws and Sarah Bird Wright. Bloomsbury and France: Art and Friends (2000); Mary Ann Caws. Bloomsbury in Cassis (1994).