If your pockets are deeper than the Mariana Trench then you might be excited to know that the iconic Man Ray poster design for London Underground is being sold by an auction house.

The poster — first used on the London Underground 80 years ago — shows the famous tube roundel floating in space near to Saturn and its slightly mysterious meaning has long puzzled commentators.

The straightforward accepted interpretation places the London Transport System within the larger, smoothly running, elliptical orbits of the Solar System, suggesting efficient and punctual service on a universal level.

The designer of the poster, American born Emmanuel Radnitzky (later changed his name to Man Ray) did pioneering work with solarization and experimenting with photograms (which he referred to as rayographs, in reference to his own name).

In this process, he placed objects directly on photographic paper and exposed it to light. This “camera-less” technique created surreal images, at the same time abstract and representational.

Man Ray submitted the designs for these posters in 1936 to Frank Pick, London Transport’s Chief Executive, and in 1938 they were used for the first time on the London Underground network.

Unfortunately for any deep pocketed buyer, they need even deeper pockets soon, as the poster being sold is only half of a pair — the other said “London Underground -“, while this one says “-Keeps London Going”.

The poster is being sold next month by Swann Galleries, and it is expected to fetch as much as $120,000.

Those of us with more normal sized pockets can pick up a reproduction from the London Transport Museum shop, or book a tour of their poster archive.

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4 comments on “Rare London Underground poster by Man Ray up for sale
  1. Man Ray says:

    Er, I think you mean “Man Ray”, as you have it in the sixth paragraph.

  2. BrightonReader says:

    I believe you mean ‘Man Ray’ not ‘Ray Man’

  3. Gerry says:

    1938 A Tube Odyssey

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