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This is Richard Hollis

Henry van de Velde: The Artist as Designer

A series of public events accompanying the exhibition Off the Grid, organised by the staff and teachers of Graphic Design at KASK – School of Arts Gent.

To mark the launch of his newly published biography Henry van de Velde: The Artist as Designer (Occasional Papers, 2019), Richard Hollis will explain why Van de Velde is important to him as a designer. He will focus on the Arts and Crafts Movement's lasting influence on Van de Velde and he will discuss some of the objects in the Design Museum Gent collection that relate to Van de Velde’s intrepid life and ideas.

One of the most inspiring figures of 20th-century Modernism, Henry van de Velde’s career is rife with paradoxes. Before turning to design and architecture, his paintings were influenced by the ‘scientific’ ideas of line and colour adopted by Seurat. Yet he thought that mankind’s ‘most noble power’ was energy, which he believed could be expressed by line in ornament. At the same time, he admired engineering structures that depended on iron and steel. As a designer under the influence of the English Arts and Crafts, he faced the choice of either creating a new style that would bring about a new society, or waiting until social reform had been achieved before pioneering a new aesthetic.

Richard Hollis is a British graphic designer, teacher and writer. He designed the quarterly journal Modern Poetry in Translation, was the art editor of the weekly NewSociety and designed the original edition of John Berger’s iconicWays of Seeing. In the late 1960s and early 1980s he created the visual identity for the Whitechapel Art Gallery in London. He is the author of such notable books on graphic design history as Graphic Design. A Concise History (2001), Swiss Graphic Design: The Origins and Growth of an International Style, 1920-1965 (2006) and About Graphic Design (2012).