The Art Map is our first comprehensive guide to art on the Underground. The map highlights the iconic works that have formed the backdrop to the journeys of the millions of people who use the Tube every day. If you are unable to pick up a copy in one of the Zone 1 stations please get in touch
Art on the Underground continues the legacy of London Underground’s visionary Managing Director, Frank Pick, commissioning artists to create unique works for the enjoyment of our customers. The Art Map is the first map that celebrates this programme that has created extraordinary projects making art accessible for everyone, every day.
A practical guide to discovering art across Transport for London
‘Where there is life, there is art’. So said Frank Pick in 1917. Pick wasn’t an artist – he was Managing Director of London Underground. His vision was to use the work of artists and designers in every Underground space. Pick’s approach turned the Underground into one of London’s most important patrons of the arts, and that legacy is kept alive today.
A golden age for art
When London Underground needed a new headquarters, Pick asked architect Charles Holden to design a building that captured the spirit of the Underground. In 1927, work began on 55 Broadway at St James’s Park. Holden collaborated with some of the era’s leading sculptors – Jacob Epstein, Eric Gill, Henry Moore – to create powerful pieces for the building’s exterior. With this bold statement at 55 Broadway, London Underground’s ambition to make art a part of every journey was set.
Eric Aumonier’s sculpture at East Finchley, The Archer, was part of a progressive plan in the 1930s to bring art to stations across London – a plan interrupted by the Second World War. But in the years after the war, as the Underground developed, so did the approach to art.
Post-war changes of direction
In the 1960s, work started on the first new line for 50 years, the Victoria line. London Transport worked with pioneering agency Design Research Unit to create a uniform look for the line punctuated by art. Distinctive tiled motifs on platforms gave each station its own identity: at Pimlico, for example, Peter Sedgley’s modern design riffed on work shown at the nearby Tate Gallery.
From this experiment in identity came a new aim. Consistency across Underground lines was out. Instead, from the late 1970s, London Transport wanted each station’s design to be unique. Extraordinary artworks were commissioned, including Eduardo Paolozzi’s vibrant mosaics at Tottenham Court Road, Robyn Denny’s ribbon-like designs at Embankment and David Gentleman’s woodcuts at Charing Cross.
Art for a new century
Today, Transport for London is as committed to art and design as it was when Pick was in charge. Art on the Underground has been bringing art into the lives of millions of Londoners since 2000. Major pieces by Daniel Buren, Jacqueline Poncelet, John Maine and Knut Henrik Henriksen can be found all over the city. In 2013, Mark Wallinger created the remarkable Labyrinth: 270 works of art, one for every Tube station. From installations to live events and even music, Art on the Underground is pushing the boundaries of public art.
This map is your guide to the artworks that can be found across the Tube. We hope you enjoy hunting out the ambitious, exciting and beautiful work on show all over our city.
Art on the Underground. For everyone, every day.
Head of Art on the Underground