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The Great Bear

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    United Kingdom (printed)

  • Date:

    1992 (printed and published)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Patterson, Simon, born 1967 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Colour lithograph on paper, framed

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

In this witty double-take image, lithography is used not for its specific textural qualities as an original graphic medium but because it is an integral part of an object that the artist appropriated wholesale for his statement about perception and communication.

The unique design of the 1933 London Transport Underground Map made it an icon of 20th-century life for all those who had even the slightest familiarity with the British capital. Simon Patterson reproduced it faithfully, in its typography, composition and steel frame, replacing only the names of the stations with the names of famous (for whatever reason) men and women. The relationships between them, set up by their positions in line and the lines they appear in, seem sometimes to follow set patterns (a sequence of film stars or a sequence of saints, for example) but then the pattern is broken and we are presented with new, if unlikely, connections.As the title suggests, the map has been wittily reinvented as a constellation of 'stars' in the galaxy of fame.

Physical description

Landscape format print in colours. Almost identical to the route maps provided by London Transport, save for the place names, which in 'The Great Bear' are the names of famous people. The frame is also identical to that provided by London Transport.

Place of Origin

United Kingdom (printed)


1992 (printed and published)


Patterson, Simon, born 1967 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Colour lithograph on paper, framed

Marks and inscriptions

'Simon Patterson 1992'
Signature; date; bottom right corner; pencil

'© London Regional Transport'
Registration mark; part of the image: lower right corner of image; offset lithography

Maker's identification; bottom right corner; pencil


Height: 99.2 cm sight, print, Width: 124.5 cm sight, print, Height: 109 cm with frame, Width: 134.4 cm with frame, Width: 135.2 cm with frame and hinges

Descriptive line

Print by Simon Patterson, 'The Great Bear', lithograph, London, 1992

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Victoria and Albert Museum Department of Prints, Drawings and Paintings Accession Register for 1992

Labels and date

This print replicates the iconic London Underground map in type, layout and even the steel frame as used in stations, but the station names have been replaced by the names of well-known people from various spheres of activity. As the title suggests, the map has been wittily reinvented as a constellation of 'stars' in the galaxy of fame. [2007]

Production Note

Reason For Production: Retail
The frame is identical to those used by London Transport to display their route maps and maufactured by the same company; it is an integral part of the object.


Printing ink; Paper; Steel frame



Subjects depicted

Constellations; Maps; Double-take; Fame; Transport


Prints; Maps; Transport; Frames

Production Type

Limited edition


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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