©Wolfgang Tillmans courtesy Art on the Underground

©Wolfgang Tillmans courtesy Art on the Underground

When these posters were first displayed on the Underground last year, they stood out amongst the colourful commercials and touristy theatre tat. As part of Art on the Underground, a scheme that provides a welcome programme of contemporary art that definitely enriches the Tube environment in general and the commuter’s journey experience in particular, it continues the longstanding and very lovely tradition that excellent art and design is at the core of London Underground’s identity and services. For London Underground’s 150th Anniversary in 2013, Art on the Underground commissioned Turner Prize winning artist Mark Wallinger to create Labyrinth, a permanent artwork for each of the 270 stations on the network.

©Sarah Lucas courtesy Art on the Underground

©Sarah Lucas courtesy Art on the Underground

Thus the 15 for 150 commissions follow in a long tradition of artists’ involvement in the Tube, from Man Ray to Frank Newbould, Edward McKnight Kauffer, Laura Knight, Howard Hodgkin and David Booth, all of whom have designed specially commissioned posters for the network. Landmark commissions in the last 13 years have included works by Cindy Sherman, Tracey Emin, Michael Landy, Jeremy Deller, Dryden Goodwin, Susan Hiller, Barbara Kruger, Liam Gillick, Eva Rothschild, Yinka Shonibare, Richard Long, Gary Hume, Richard Wentworth, Gavin Turk and Peter Blake, maintaining art as a central element of London Underground’s identity. They also hope that it engages passengers and staff alike in a strong sense of shared ownership. Not sure about the latter as I think most of us view a Tube journey more as a necessary evil than a cause for celebration, however, anything that makes it more pleasant has got to be a good thing.

©Colin Sworn courtesy Art on the Underground

©Colin Sworn courtesy Art on the Underground

Art on the Underground is set to launch its first ever pop-up retail space at Piccadilly Circus Underground station. From 8th to 19th April 2014, commuters and passers-by will be able to purchase fifteen sets of signed and numbered, limited edition prints from top international artists at Print Shop, a specially purposed booth in the station’s main concourse.

The artists who have created works are: Pablo Bronstein, Melissa Gordon, Runa Islam, Idris Khan, Sarah Lucas, Goshka Macuga, Robert Orchardson, Martha Rosler, Nedko Solakov, Frances Stark, Corin Sworn, Wolfgang Tillmans, Gillian Wearing, Lawrence Weiner and Haegue Yang.

‘But I can’t afford this!’ I hear you exclaim. Don’t fret. You can afford to commute and own these striking prints. As Print Shop is launching in collaboration with Own Art, an initiative that offers budding collectors interest-free loans to purchase contemporary artworks, the Art on the Underground pop-up shop presents a rare chance for the public to acquire affordable art in a non-gallery setting. You can spread the cost of your purchase over 10 months with an interest free loan and you can borrow as little as £100 up to £2,000 or even use the loan as a part payment on higher value items. The idea is that this helps promote more ambitious buying and develops new collectors for the contemporary visual arts.

Print Shop
Tuesday 8 – Saturday 19 April 2014
Piccadilly Circus Underground Station
Opening hours | Tuesday to Friday 11-7pm; Saturday+ Sunday 11-6pm

Print Shop has been designed by APFEL and Simon Jones, who previously created the House of Voltaire pop-up for Studio Voltaire in 2012 and 2010.

Words by Anna Bang

©Melissa Gordon courtesy Art on the Underground

©Melissa Gordon courtesy Art on the Underground

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anna bang, Art On The Underground, Colin Sworn, Mark Wallinger, Melissa Gordon, Sarah Lucas, Wolfgang Tillmans,