Wednesday, March 14
Always Seeing - Richard Hollis
BY LAURA HOUSELEY
The well-known cover features a surreal collection of images; a horses head, a clock, jug and suitcase, book-ended by unjustified bold sans serif text. And it is especially familiar for art students or graphic designers, appearing as a perennial on reading lists and at the counter of arts bookstores everywhere. The book is John Berger’s ‘Ways Of Seeing’ and the designer behind it was Richard Hollis. When created in 1972, the now seminal cover work was misunderstood, and disliked, by its publisher, Penguin. A note scrawled on the cover and returned to Hollis read; ‘Is the text meant to be centred?’
Of course, Hollis’ arranging of words and images in a manner sympathetic to the text he was charged with is now much celebrated and frequently studied. With new generations of young graphic designers constantly rediscovering his work. Which is why it is perhaps surprising that the retrospective exhibition due to open next month at Gallery Libby Sellers in London is the first of its kind. Sellers extols the continuing relevance of Hollis’s output and adds; ‘My favourite works are his personal pieces, done as both formal documentation of his passionate interests (politics, travel, poetry) but also as examples of how he integrates text and pictures with unparalleled intelligence.’
From ‘Ways Of Seeing’, to the authorship of ‘Graphic Design: A Concise History’ to Pink Floyd’s letterhead - it is fair to say that Hollis’s work is worthy of another look.
The Richard Hollis exhibition is curated by design historian Emily King, designed by architect Simon Jones and will coincide with the publishing of a new book of writings by Hollis ‘About Graphic Design’.
Richard Hollis opens at Gallery Libby Sellers on the 23rd March.
Book cover for The Stagnant Society by Michael Shanks. Design by Richard Hollis.
Published by Penguin Books, London, 1961
Published by BBC and Penguin Books, London 1972