15 Artists Celebrate 150 Years Of The London Underground

Four key stations showcase the Tube-inspired posters of contemporary artists.

When London’s Metropolitan Railway made its debut way back in 1863, the steam-powered trains offered a novel way of navigating the city. Now, over a billion locals and tourists depend on the Tube to efficiently (as possible) take them between the network’s 250 stations.


This year marks the 150th anniversary of the subterranean system, and in an effort to celebrate and make commutes a bit more visually engaging, Art on the Underground has commissioned 15 contemporary creatives to contribute poster-sized works for a limited-edition series. The select group represents an interesting mix of local and international talent (and some big names, including Lawrence Weiner and Gillian Wearing), who were given an open-ended brief: “They were each given a brief to create an image which celebrates the Tube and will be a lasting visual legacy for its 150th year,” Rebecca Heald, curator for Art on the Underground, tells Co.Design.

As such, the results are incredibly varied, with some more explicitly addressing the mass-transit theme than others: Colin Swarn’s “Waiting for a Tube” is a lovely distillation of the diversity on any given platform; “NUD” by Sarah Lucas could be viewed, in this context, as a tangle of flesh from an über-crowded rush-hour; and “Freischwimmer “by Wolfgang Tillmans evokes staring through a steamy window on a cold day.

The concept is actually one of a handful of projects being rolled out in honor of the sesquicentennial, alongside Mark Wallinger’s Labyrinth series (and challenge) and including screenings of Underground-themed films from the BFI archives. Catch the posters up at Gloucester Road, Southwark, St. James’s Park, and London Bridge stations from June; however, if you can’t make it to town but are keen to incorporate a bit of the British spirit into your home decor, limited-edition prints will go on sale June 6th for £60 to £550. Sign up here for updates and more details.

(h/t It’s Nice That)