Max’s life is all mapped out
MacDonald Gill: Charting a LifeBy Caroline Walker. Design: Felicity Price-Smith. Unicorn Press, £30
This book is about far more than Leslie MacDonald Gill (better known as Max) and can be appreciated from several points of view. Little of the work has been seen outside a couple of exhibitions and much of the original material only came to light in 2006. It was preserved by Priscilla Johnston (Max’s second wife), made available to study by her nephew Andrew, and now Gill’s great-niece Caroline Walker has written this biography.
It is Max’s story of artistic struggle, hard work and self-belief, great talent and range, but it is the story too of the emergence of graphic design as a discipline; of patronage of the arts by influential figures such as Frank Pick; of the importance of clubs and societies such as the Art Workers’ Guild to the spread of ideas and patronage and to the artistic milieu of the time …
Cover, designed by Felicity Price-Smith. Top. By Paying Us Your Pennies (1914), later known as The Wonderground Map of London Town, a poster (dimensions 102 x 127 cm) designed and illustrated by Max Gill for London Underground.
Phil Baines, graphic designer, Professor Emeritus, UAL, London
Read the full version in Eye no. 101 vol. 26, 2021
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