A major new work of art has been unveiled inside Piccadilly Circus tube station to commemorate the defining work done by Frank Pick to create the London Underground we recognise today.
Frank Pick was the mastermind behind London’s iconic Underground designs, such as the famous bar and circle logo known as the ‘roundel’ and many of London Underground’s Art Deco stations.
Commissioned by London Transport Museum and London Underground’s Art on the Underground programme in partnership with London-born gift and interiors retailer Bouf, the artwork titled ‘BEAUTY < IMMORTALITY’ is by Turner Prize nominated artists Langlands & Bell.
The wall installation, which sits inside the old telephone booth area, is made of bronze, vitreous enamel, LEDs and marble, and will be a permanent addition to the station’s art-deco architecture.
The artwork is 9.5m long and 2m high and features a 1.37m diameter roundel and a 1.98m high text of solid bronze letters in New Johnston typeface. The original Johnston typeface was commissioned by Frank Pick in 1915 and is still used, in an adapted form, across London’s transport network today.
The artists were inspired by Frank Pick’s own handwritten notes, which are part of London Transport Museum’s unique collection. The text relates to Frank Pick’s philosophy about beauty, utility, goodness and truth.
As Managing Director of London Underground in the 1920s and the first Chief Executive of London Transport, Frank Pick (1878-1941) had more influence on the look of twentieth-century London than any other individual. Art historian Nikolaus Pevsner described Frank Pick as “the greatest patron of the arts whom this century has so far produced in England, and indeed the ideal patron of our age.”
Through Pick’s vision and determination, the Underground played a role in the birth of commercial art and advertising, as well as the emergence of graphic design, wayfinding systems, corporate identities and integrated brand design.
Sam Mullins, Director of London Transport Museum said: “People around the world are familiar with the Tube logo, London Underground’s distinctive station architecture and the Edward Johnston typeface and we are delighted to be marking the contribution of the man behind commissioning these ground breaking designs. This installation celebrates Frank Pick’s enduring legacy and his remarkable and individual pursuit of civic excellence for London.”
There will also be a talk at the Transport Museum on 10th November about the new artwork. Details here.