Paul Rennie - Modern British Posters (4 stars)

Paul Rennie - Modern British Posters

(Black Dog Publishing)

As its title hints, with allusions to the gallery and the auction house, Paul Rennie’s intellectually rigorous, aesthetically pleasing book deals with a very specific type of art in Britain from the mid-20th century. Rennie’s weighty tome details through trajectory and semantics the genesis of British poster art from 1915 (the year that the Design and Industries Association was formed, an organisation that was to usher in the post World War I modernisation in visual communication) and 1969, the year of Cramer Saatchi’s famous ‘Pregnant Man’ poster.

Rennie’s anthropological and academic ambitions soon become something far more fun. He pulls in the Enlightenment, abstraction, surrealism and what he calls the ‘pop assembly’, leading us through the euphoria and innocent pleasures of education, reform and regeneration to capitalist gain as the advertising industry came of age. This is a splendid book, one told with energy and without condescension.

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