Artists Space

Richard Hollis

September 21 – November 10, 2013

Black text on paper introducing the book. The top text reads, "A Pelican Original, Ways of Seeing, Based on the BBC television series with John Berger."
Book cover for Ways of Seeing by John Berger. Design by Richard Hollis . Published by BBC and Penguin Books, London, 1972. Courtesy Richard Hollis [Black text on paper introducing the book. The top text reads, "A Pelican Original, Ways of Seeing, Based on the BBC television series with John Berger."]

This exhibition, curated by design historian Emily King with designer Stuart Bailey, is the first overview of Hollis’ work in the US. Consisting of over 150 items drawn from the designer’s personal archive including finished pieces, layouts, and notes, it reflects his entire professional life. Hollis was greatly influenced in the 1950s and 60s by travels to Zurich, Paris and Cuba, his production during this time revealing the impact of Swiss modernist design and Concrete art, alongside that of left-wing politics. In the mid-1960s he co-founded with Norman Potter a new School of Design at West England College of Art, based on experimental teaching principles, and worked as art director and designer of journals including New Society and Modern Poetry in Translation, the last of which Hollis went on to design for a period of 40 years.

Over these four decades, Hollis also worked for numerous publishers, including freelance for Penguin, and as art director at the left-wing publisher Pluto Press. In 1972 Hollis was one of the team of five that produced the book of John Berger’s BBC TV series Ways of Seeing. This significant project crystallized ideas around the ideological function of visual images, forming a critique of representation that was extended into the innovative relations between image and text in the publication. Hollis also collaborated with Berger on the design of the novel G. (1972) and the study of migrant workers A Seventh Man (1975), produced with the photographer Jean Mohr.

Richard Hollis is curated by Emily King with Stuart Bailey. Exhibition furniture design by Simon Jones. The exhibition was first presented at Gallery Libby Sellers, London, in 2012, and toured to ECAL, Lausanne and Centre Pompidou, Paris.

British graphic designer Richard Hollis (born London, 1934) is a seminal figure in postwar design and communication. Working consistently since the 1950s as a freelance designer, Hollis has also authored influential books on design history and theory. His practice has placed emphasis on close collaboration with those commissioning his design, including writers, editors, artists, curators and architects. An overriding concern for the effective and economic communication of the client's message has been consistent throughout his work.

For a period of seven years in the 1970s and 80s, Hollis worked for the Whitechapel Gallery in London establishing a coherent system of communication for the gallery that has subsequently become a touchstone for the manner in which art institutions adopt a graphic identity. Since then he has worked for many other public and private art galleries, and along the way forged long-standing relationships and collaborations with several artists, most significantly British Op artist Bridget Riley. Consistent across his five decades of work as a designer has been a commitment to writing on design, including the key text Graphic Design: A Concise History, published by Thames & Hudson in 1994, and Swiss Graphic Design published by Laurence King in 2006. His writing for magazines, journals and newspapers, alongside letters and lecture outlines, have recently been compiled into About Graphic Design, published by Occasional Papers in April 2012.

A Frida Kahlo painting and portrait of woman against a black background.
[A Frida Kahlo painting and portrait of woman against a black background.]
A blue book cover with text that reads, "The Truth About Hollis, W.J. West."
[A blue book cover with text that reads, "The Truth About Hollis, W.J. West."]
Richard Hollis. Lecture. Books & Talk lecture Documentation. Friday, August 23, 2013. Artists Space Books & Talks. 55 Walker Street. [A figure stands at a podium towards the right side of the frame, while a sequence of images appear on a screen to their left.]

September 22, 2013

A Video Lecture by Richard Hollis
Talk
3pm

September 26, 2013

The Truth About Hollis
Stuart Bailey

Talk
7pm

An angled view of 4 book stands perpendicular to a wall, all displaying various books, documents, and papers.
Installation view from Richard Hollis, Artists Space, 2013 [An angled view of 4 book stands perpendicular to a wall, all displaying various books, documents, and papers.]
A small television on top of a vitrine shows John Berger looking at the viewer. In the vitrine, several books and documents are opened for display.
Installation view from Richard Hollis, Artists Space, 2013 [A small television on top of a vitrine shows John Berger looking at the viewer. In the vitrine, several books and documents are opened for display.]
A view of a book stand perpendicular to a wall in which staggered posters are hung. The book stand displays various documents and materials.
Installation view from Richard Hollis, Artists Space, 2013 [A view of a book stand perpendicular to a wall in which staggered posters are hung. The book stand displays various documents and materials.]
An angled view of the exhibition exit, on which the left of the doorway is text, on the right a projected image. Across the frame is a large bookstand displaying documents, books, and papers.
Installation view from Richard Hollis, Artists Space, 2013 [An angled view of the exhibition exit, on which the left of the doorway is text, on the right a projected image. Across the frame is a large bookstand displaying documents, books, and papers.]
A view between two book stands, perpendicular to the wall, displaying books, documents, and papers. On the wall, posters are staggered including various text and images.
Installation view from Richard Hollis, Artists Space, 2013 [A view between two book stands, perpendicular to the wall, displaying books, documents, and papers. On the wall, posters are staggered including various text and images.]
In the foreground, one side of a book stand displaying various posters and documents. Two more in the background include more items. Two people congregate in a coversation around a bookstand in the background.
Installation view from Richard Hollis, Artists Space, 2013 [In the foreground, one side of a book stand displaying various posters and documents. Two more in the background include more items. Two people congregate in a coversation around a bookstand in the background.]
A blue shirt sits folded on a table with a book inside its pocket. Next to it, a book with text on the cover that reads, "The Hazards of Work: How to Fight Them."
The Hazards of Work, Patrick Kinnersly, 1973, Pluto Press, Book. Design by Richard Hollis. [A blue shirt sits folded on a table with a book inside its pocket. Next to it, a book with text on the cover that reads, "The Hazards of Work: How to Fight Them."]

Richard Hollis Book Fair Flyer

Black text on paper introducing the book. The top text reads, "A Pelican Original, Ways of Seeing, Based on the BBC television series with John Berger."
Book cover for Ways of Seeing by John Berger. Design by Richard Hollis . Published by BBC and Penguin Books, London, 1972. Courtesy Richard Hollis [Black text on paper introducing the book. The top text reads, "A Pelican Original, Ways of Seeing, Based on the BBC television series with John Berger."]
A nude statue of a woman in a headdress. To the left, sideways text reads, "At the Whitechapel Art Gallery."
Program for ‘At The Whitechapel Art Gallery, September – November 1981’ . Designed by Richard Hollis, 1981. Courtesy Richard Hollis [A nude statue of a woman in a headdress. To the left, sideways text reads, "At the Whitechapel Art Gallery."]
Black text at the top of a white background reads, "At Guilford 40 part-time staff have been dismissed, 7 full-time staff suspended, 5 full-time staff threatened, some students are in danger of being refused readmission. Hornsey is to stay closed for six weeks; Haringey has asked local authorities to pay grants monthly." Red text at the bottom reads, "MoRADE seeks positive action."
‘MoRADE Seeks Positive Action’ poster. Design by Richard Hollis, 1968. Courtesy Richard Hollis [Black text at the top of a white background reads, "At Guilford 40 part-time staff have been dismissed, 7 full-time staff suspended, 5 full-time staff threatened, some students are in danger of being refused readmission. Hornsey is to stay closed for six weeks; Haringey has asked local authorities to pay grants monthly." Red text at the bottom reads, "MoRADE seeks positive action."]
A red background, half the Union Jack poisitoned behind sillhouette
Book cover for The Stagnant Society by Michael Shanks. Design by Richard Hollis. Published by Penguin Books, London, 1961. Courtesy Richard Hollis [A red background, half the Union Jack poisitoned behind sillhouette's of five men and a car, and text that reads, "The Stagnant Society, Michael Shanks."]
An advertisement split down the middle with text and image. On the left text reads, "The Sights and Sounds of the Jewing East End at the Whitechapel Gallery." On the right, a portrait of a family outside a corner shop of which the window reads, "John Jameson Whiskey."
Exhibition poster for ‘The Sights and Sounds of the Jewish East End’ at The Whitechapel Gallery, London. Design by Richard Hollis, 1980. Courtesy Richard Hollis [An advertisement split down the middle with text and image. On the left text reads, "The Sights and Sounds of the Jewing East End at the Whitechapel Gallery." On the right, a portrait of a family outside a corner shop of which the window reads, "John Jameson Whiskey."]

The New Tradition: Robin Kinross talks to Richard Hollis about his attempts to match the radical message of much of his work to his design method

Way of Working

Conversation with Richard Hollis on Graphic Design History

This exhibition is supported by Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts; The New York State Council on the Arts, a State Agency; public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council; and The Friends of Artists Space.