Shell Brands International and the National Motor Museum Trust hosted collection, the Shell Heritage Art Collection, in association with the publisher, Lund Humphries, are pleased to announce their new publication Shell Art & Advertising. Written by the authors Scott Anthony, Oliver Green, and Margaret Timmers, with contributions by the Shell Heritage Art Collection Manager, Nicky Balfour Penney, and a foreword by the artist, David Gentleman, the book was published this week in the UK and will be published in January in the US.
Drawing primarily on the Shell Heritage Art Collection’s extensive poster collection, as well as film, cartoon graphics, and guidebooks, Shell Art & Advertising is the first to present a comprehensive overview of Shell’s artistic heritage. The key contributions made by some major artists and designers including Paul Nash, Graham Sutherland, Ben Nicholson, and Edward McKnight Kauffer are highlighted and beautifully reproduced from original archive material, and broader questions are explored, such as Shell’s position within contemporary debates regarding the aesthetics of ‘Commercial Art’. By delving into the ways in which Shell’s publicity was conceived, commissioned, and disseminated in the 20th century, the authors examine the historical and social contexts of Shell’s advertising and assess the work’s broader cultural significance in shaping an era defined by travel, prosperity and mass democracy.
This beautifully designed and illustrated book explores in detail Shell’s remarkable archive of pictorial advertising art from its origins up to the 1960s. Shell has a well-established reputation for this artistic heritage, particularly from its 1930s heyday, but this is the first publication to present and describe it comprehensively. Examinations of the historical, political, and social contexts of Shell art and advertising enable the authors to assess the work’s broader cultural significance. By delving into the ways in which Shell’s publicity was conceived, commissioned, produced, and disseminated, the particular contributions made by artists and designers are highlighted, while broader questions such as Shell’s position within contemporary debates regarding the aesthetics and proper purpose of “Commercial Art” are explored.
Drawing primarily on Shell’s extensive poster collection, as well as other contemporary sources, Shell Art & Advertising provides valuable insights into the development of commercial art in the UK. Featuring a wealth of fascinating images, this original publication will appeal to a broad readership from fans of Modern British Art to cultural historians.
About the Authors
Scott Anthony is a writer and historian. His books include Night Mail (2007), The Projection of Britain (with James Mansell, 2011), and The Story of Propaganda (2021). Nicky Balfour Penney (contributor) is the Shell Heritage Art Collection Manager. Oliver Green is a former Head Curator and now Research Fellow at the London Transport Museum and a freelance historian and museums consultant. His publications include London’s Underground: The Story of the Tube (2019), Frank Pick’s London: Art, Design and the Modern City (2013), British Aviation Posters: Art, Design and Flight (with Scott Anthony, Lund Humphries, 2012). Margaret Timmers was formerly Senior Curator of Prints in the Word & Image Department of the V&A. She is the editor of The Power of the Poster (1998) and co-editor with Gill Saunders of The Poster: A Visual History (2020).