Piccadilly Circus: Beauty < Immortality

Where: Piccadilly Circus underground station

What: An artwork commemorating the London Transport’s first chief executive, Frank Pick. It was commissioned by the London Transport Museum and London Underground’s Art on the Underground programme, and was unveiled on the 75th anniversary of his death, November 2016. Frank Pick was the “mastermind” behind many of the now iconic London underground design decisions such as the use of the famous roundel, Harry Beck’s tube map, Edward Johnston’s typeface, and commissioning Piccadilly Circus station itself in the 1930s from Charles Holden, a modernist British architect.

In the artwork by Turner prize nominees Langlands and Bell, Frank Pick has been given his own roundel, lit with LEDs, and text in bronze to the left hand side occupying a floor-ceiling stretch of wall.

The text used was originally marginalia, a scribbled note in Pick’s writing, found by the artists while doing research at London Transport Museum’s archive. According to the artists, quoted in Design Week, “When we looked through Pick’s lecture notes we didn’t know if we’d find anything, but then we just stumbled on this little equation and we felt that it was the key to his thinking…It was a lightbulb moment.” The equations therefore reflect his design philosophies.

Text:

Beauty < Immortality

Utility < Perfection

Goodness < Righteousness

Truth < Wisdom

Material: Marble (pre-existing material within the architecture of the station), bronze, enamel and LEDs

Artists: Langlands and Bell (Ben Langlands & Nikki Bell)

Date: 2016

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