University’s archive of celebrated 20th century designer features in national exhibition
19 August 2020
Barnett Freedman’s posters and book covers have permanent home at Special Collections Museum
A critically acclaimed exhibition – one of the first to re-open after the COVID-19 lockdown – features work loaned from the University’s Special Collections Museum.
Barnett Freedman: Designs for Modern Britain, at Pallant House Gallery, Chichester celebrates “one of Britain’s most sought-after commercial designers in the mid-20th century”.
Freedman’s graphic designs were a hallmark of inter and post-war Britain, seen on London Underground posters, Guinness advertisements, Dickens and Bronte book jackets and a ‘King’s Stamp’ to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of HRH King George V in 1935.
Manchester Metropolitan University’s Special Collections Museum holds Freedman’s archive, as part of its collections of national significance for the study of 20th century book illustration, art and design and textile design.
Items loaned from Special Collections Museum include Freedman’s original artwork for book covers and illustrations, posters designed for Shell, London Transport and Guinness, material relating to his work as an Official War Artist and correspondence with some of the key figures in 20th century British art.
These all feature in the Pallant House Gallery exhibition – the first major retrospective of his work since 1958. It has received many favourable write-ups, including a five-star review in the Daily Telegraph.
Janneke Geene, Special Collections Manager, said: “As the university museum of Manchester Metropolitan we are delighted to care for such an important archive of unique material.
“Many students and academics work with our collections and archives for study and research. Imagine being a graphics student and being able to pour over Barnett Freedman's original artwork.
“The impressive show at Pallant House Gallery is a great opportunity for us to work with a leading gallery in the country. The show reflects a richly deserved renewed interest in Freedman's work, both from the general public and researchers."
Simon Martin, Director of Pallant House Gallery, said: “It is over 60 years since the last major exhibition of Barnett Freedman's work,at the Tate Gallery, and so we are delighted to be introducing his remarkable work to new audiences in the exhibition at Pallant House Gallery.
“It could not have been done without the support of the Special Collections Museum at Manchester Metropolitan University, who have generously lent rare works from their archives, enabling a much deeper understanding of Freedman's place within British art and design in the mid-twentieth century.”
The Freedman archive at Special Collections Museum grew thanks to former University librarian Professor Ian Rogerson, expert in 20th century book cover design, who first collected individual items then inherited his full archive from his remaining family. Professor Rogerson went on to publish two books on Freedman which are also part of the collection.
It could not have been done without the support of the Special Collections Museum at Manchester Metropolitan University, who have generously lent rare works from their archives
Special Collections Museum, currently closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, provides access to unique primary source material for students, teachers and researchers. Information about its collections can be seen on the Special Collections website.
Barnett Freedman: Designs for Modern Britain is open at Pallant House Gallery until Sunday November 1.