'Sunflowers', painted in 1917, is a rare example of Kauffer's work in oil because in 1921 he gave up painting entirely in favour of commercial art. The bold design, clean handling and the angular simplifications and distortions of the drawing, reveal Kauffer's awareness of Post-Impressionist French and Italian art. Here he chooses to represent a subject famously treated by Van Gogh in a style modified by Cubism.
Edward Kauffer was born in Great Falls, Montana, USA. His first job was an assistant scene painter at Evansville's Grand Opera House. By 1910 he had moved to California where he began his first formal art training at the Mark Hopkins Institute, San Francisco, while also working for a book and art dealer. In 1913 Kauffer sailed for Europe to continue his art studies in Paris. He was forced to leave France in August 1914 on the outbreak of war and moved to England. Over the next twenty-five years the London Underground Company, (later, London Transport), became Kauffer's major client and he was their major poster artist. Between 1915 and 1939 he designed over a hundred posters promoting London's bus, tram and underground services. He also produced posters and advertisements for other clients including Shell, the Great Western Railway, the Empire Marketing Board and the Post Office. An exhibition of his posters was held at the London Transport Museum in 1983. Kauffer's work also included designs for book jackets, book illustrations and costumes and sets for the ballet 'Checkmate' in 1937.
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