Urban Adventures

The Machine Age - 1922

Claude Flight's 'Speed'

'Speed', 1922
Colour linocut
Artist: Claude Flight
© Victoria and Albert Museum. Museum number E.3543-1923


In the early 20th century there was an obsession with new technology and mechanisation as the cities continued to industrialise and grow larger. This was visualised best in films such as 'Metropolis' and in Britain through the work of artists such as C. R. W. Nevinson and Claude Flight. Some involved in artistic movements like Futurism and Cubism in mainland Europe, and Vorticism in Britain, found their fascination with speed and machines was best expressed in images of the city.

Despite the desire for nostalgic simplicity based around the garden city movement, in the 1920s a number of British architects and artists began working with themes of mechanisation. Capturing the movement of a double-decker bus, Flight embraces the energy of London in this linocut print. The bus moulds to fit the line of the building behind it; the bus becoming part of the streetscape, while the building takes on the speed of the vehicle.

Flight did not concern himself with representing an alternative to the existing city; rather, he illustrated the existing conditions of London in a positive light. His portrayal shows pedestrians, public transport and architecture existing as a fluid unit. 


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