Visionary London Transport CEO Frank Pick, whose designs have influenced London travel since 1906, is commemorated with a permanent memorial by Ben Langlands and Nikki Bell.
The work, entitled Beauty < Immortality, commissioned by London Transport Museum and Art on the Underground was unveiled on Monday 7 November 2016 at Piccadilly Circus station, the 75th anniversary of Pick’s death.
Langlands & Bell’s striking wall installation features the famous London Underground logo, the roundel, and solid bronze letters in Johnston Font, which was commissioned by Pick in 1915 and is still used across the London transport network today.
The words of the commission relate to Pick’s philosophy on beauty, utility, goodness and truth, and were discovered by the artists in Pick’s personal papers, which are conserved in the London Transport Archive. The memorial emphasises Langlands & Bell’s shared conviction with Pick that the quality of our surroundings contributes decisively to our quality of life.
Beauty < Immortality is an exquisite addition to Piccadilly Circus, one of the stations Frank Pick commissioned leading British modernist architect Charles Holden to design.
Frank Pick (1878-1941) was instrumental in establishing the world’s most progressive modern public transport system. He began as head of London Underground in the early 20th century and then expanded the network through amalgamating different railway and bus companies to form the newly merged London Transport in the 1930s.
Pick oversaw what is widely acknowledged to be transport design’s Golden Age. Through his commissioning of the leading architects, artists and designers of the time, he comprehensively shaped the visual identity of London Transport. His vast legacy includes the distinctive architectural design of many Tube stations, the classic Edward Johnston type face, the iconic Tube map, and the bar and circle logo – the roundel – that is recognised all over the world. Outside London, Pick also had a profound influence on urban transport systems all over the world, from Moscow to Tokyo and beyond.
Artist duo Langlands & Bell have long explored systems of mass communication, networks and travel in their diverse projects. This new work demonstrates the ability artists have to enrich the daily environments of millions of people, a notion inspired by the vision of Frank Pick.