100th anniversary of the birth of Abram Games

British graphic designer Abram Games (1914-1996) was born in Whitechapel to immigrant Jewish parents on 29 July 1914, the day after Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, beginning the First World War.

Artwork for the New London Synagogue by Abram Games from the collection MS 116/85

Artwork for the New London Synagogue by Abram Games from the collection MS 116/85

Games began his career as a freelance commercial artist and was commissioned to produce posters for clients such as Shell, London Transport and the Post Office. He joined the British army in 1939 and was appointed the government’s official war poster designer in 1942. During the war years he created more than one hundred official posters, with some of his most notable works including ‘Your Britain, Fight for It Now’, published in 1942, and the ATS recruitment poster for the Ministry of Information, published in 1941.

After the war he resumed his freelance work, producing commissions for clients such as the United Nations, the Financial Times, Guinness, British Airways, and the BBC. He also secured several important projects; including designing the commemorative stamps for the 1948 Olympic Games. In the same year he won the competition to create the emblem of the Festival of Britain, with his design becoming one of the most popular images of post-war Britain.

Games’ Jewish identity remained an important aspect of both his life and work and, in addition to spending time in Israel, he produced designs for a number of Jewish publications and organisations.

The University of Southampton Special Collections Division is home to a small collection of Games’ design work for Jewish publications. These include proofs, progressive sketches, and final artwork for publications and emblems of the Encyclopaedia Judaica, the Jewish Chronicle (including artwork for the Jewish Chronicle 25th anniversary of Israel cover design), the Anglo-Jewish Friendship League, the United Synagogue, the New London Synagogue, the Ben Uri Gallery, and the Jewish Museum.

The Jewish Museum in London is holding an exhibition ‘Designing the 20th Century:  Life and Work of Abram Games’ to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Games’ birth. The exhibition will run from 8 September 2014 to 4 January 2015.

For more details see http://www.jewishmuseum.org.uk/abramgames

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