British Prints from the Machine Age, Edited by Clifford Ackley

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The Independent Culture

BBC 4's programmes on the inter-war years stressed the era's passion for speed and modernity. From an American exhibition that sadly will not be crossing the Atlantic, dynamic prints by British artists between 1914 and 1936 demonstrate the pervasive nature of these themes.

Claude Flight's linocut of duelling racing cars at Brooklands (1929) might be a cover illustration for Waugh's Vile Bodies, published in the following year. Cyril E Powers's 1934 linocut The Tube Train combines observational realism with stylisation. In an essay, Samantha Rippner suggests that "human beings have become mere robots", but this might also apply to Powers' mechanistic Thames rowers in The Eight (1930). After 80 years, these works are still modern.