In the latest issue:

Real Men Go to Tehran

Adam Shatz

What Trump doesn’t know about Iran

Patrick Cockburn

Kaiser Karl V

Thomas Penn

The Hostile Environment

Catherine Hall

Social Mobilities

Adam Swift

Short Cuts: So much for England

Tariq Ali

What the jihadis left behind

Nelly Lahoud

Ray Strachey

Francesca Wade

C.J. Sansom

Malcolm Gaskill

At the British Museum: ‘Troy: Myth and Reality’

James Davidson

Poem: ‘The Lion Tree’

Jamie McKendrick


Jenny Turner

Boys in Motion

Nicholas Penny

Jia Tolentino

Lauren Oyler

Diary: What really happened in Yancheng?

Long Ling

Short Cuts: Harry Goes Rogue

Jonathan Parry

On Richard HollisChristopher Turner

Terms and Conditions

These terms and conditions of use refer to the London Review of Books and the London Review Bookshop website ( — hereafter ‘LRB Website’). These terms and conditions apply to all users of the LRB Website ("you"), including individual subscribers to the print edition of the LRB who wish to take advantage of our free 'subscriber only' access to archived material ("individual users") and users who are authorised to access the LRB Website by subscribing institutions ("institutional users").

Each time you use the LRB Website you signify your acceptance of these terms and conditions. If you do not agree, or are not comfortable with any part of this document, your only remedy is not to use the LRB Website.

  1. By registering for access to the LRB Website and/or entering the LRB Website by whatever route of access, you agree to be bound by the terms and conditions currently prevailing.
  2. The London Review of Books ("LRB") reserves the right to change these terms and conditions at any time and you should check for any alterations regularly. Continued usage of the LRB Website subsequent to a change in the terms and conditions constitutes acceptance of the current terms and conditions.
  3. The terms and conditions of any subscription agreements which educational and other institutions have entered into with the LRB apply in addition to these terms and conditions.
  4. You undertake to indemnify the LRB fully for all losses damages and costs incurred as a result of your breaching these terms and conditions.
  5. The information you supply on registration to the LRB Website shall be accurate and complete. You will notify the LRB promptly of any changes of relevant details by emailing the registrar. You will not assist a non-registered person to gain access to the LRB Website by supplying them with your password. In the event that the LRB considers that you have breached the requirements governing registration, that you are in breach of these terms and conditions or that your or your institution's subscription to the LRB lapses, your registration to the LRB Website will be terminated.
  6. Each individual subscriber to the LRB (whether a person or organisation) is entitled to the registration of one person to use the 'subscriber only' content on the web site. This user is an 'individual user'.
  7. The London Review of Books operates a ‘no questions asked’ cancellation policy in accordance with UK legislation. Please contact us to cancel your subscription and receive a full refund for the cost of all unposted issues.
  8. Use of the 'subscriber only' content on the LRB Website is strictly for the personal use of each individual user who may read the content on the screen, download, store or print single copies for their own personal private non-commercial use only, and is not to be made available to or used by any other person for any purpose.
  9. Each institution which subscribes to the LRB is entitled to grant access to persons to register on and use the 'subscriber only' content on the web site under the terms and conditions of its subscription agreement with the LRB. These users are 'institutional users'.
  10. Each institutional user of the LRB may access and search the LRB database and view its entire contents, and may also reproduce insubstantial extracts from individual articles or other works in the database to which their institution's subscription provides access, including in academic assignments and theses, online and/or in print. All quotations must be credited to the author and the LRB. Institutional users are not permitted to reproduce any entire article or other work, or to make any commercial use of any LRB material (including sale, licensing or publication) without the LRB's prior written permission. Institutions may notify institutional users of any additional or different conditions of use which they have agreed with the LRB.
  11. Users may use any one computer to access the LRB web site 'subscriber only' content at any time, so long as that connection does not allow any other computer, networked or otherwise connected, to access 'subscriber only' content.
  12. The LRB Website and its contents are protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights. You acknowledge that all intellectual property rights including copyright in the LRB Website and its contents belong to or have been licensed to the LRB or are otherwise used by the LRB as permitted by applicable law.
  13. All intellectual property rights in articles, reviews and essays originally published in the print edition of the LRB and subsequently included on the LRB Website belong to or have been licensed to the LRB. This material is made available to you for use as set out in paragraph 8 (if you are an individual user) or paragraph 10 (if you are an institutional user) only. Save for such permitted use, you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, post, reproduce, translate or adapt such material in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the LRB. To obtain such permission and the terms and conditions applying, contact the Rights and Permissions department.
  14. All intellectual property rights in images on the LRB Website are owned by the LRB except where another copyright holder is specifically attributed or credited. Save for such material taken for permitted use set out above, you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, post, reproduce, translate or adapt LRB’s images in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the LRB. To obtain such permission and the terms and conditions applying, contact the Rights and Permissions department. Where another copyright holder is specifically attributed or credited you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, reproduce or translate such images in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the copyright holder. The LRB will not undertake to supply contact details of any attributed or credited copyright holder.
  15. The LRB Website is provided on an 'as is' basis and the LRB gives no warranty that the LRB Website will be accessible by any particular browser, operating system or device.
  16. The LRB makes no express or implied representation and gives no warranty of any kind in relation to any content available on the LRB Website including as to the accuracy or reliability of any information either in its articles, essays and reviews or in the letters printed in its letter page or material supplied by third parties. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability of any kind (including liability for any losses, damages or costs) arising from the publication of any materials on the LRB Website or incurred as a consequence of using or relying on such materials.
  17. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability of any kind (including liability for any losses, damages or costs) for any legal or other consequences (including infringement of third party rights) of any links made to the LRB Website.
  18. The LRB is not responsible for the content of any material you encounter after leaving the LRB Website site via a link in it or otherwise. The LRB gives no warranty as to the accuracy or reliability of any such material and to the fullest extent permitted by law excludes all liability that may arise in respect of or as a consequence of using or relying on such material.
  19. This site may be used only for lawful purposes and in a manner which does not infringe the rights of, or restrict the use and enjoyment of the site by, any third party. In the event of a chat room, message board, forum and/or news group being set up on the LRB Website, the LRB will not undertake to monitor any material supplied and will give no warranty as to its accuracy, reliability, originality or decency. By posting any material you agree that you are solely responsible for ensuring that it is accurate and not obscene, defamatory, plagiarised or in breach of copyright, confidentiality or any other right of any person, and you undertake to indemnify the LRB against all claims, losses, damages and costs incurred in consequence of your posting of such material. The LRB will reserve the right to remove any such material posted at any time and without notice or explanation. The LRB will reserve the right to disclose the provenance of such material, republish it in any form it deems fit or edit or censor it. The LRB will reserve the right to terminate the registration of any person it considers to abuse access to any chat room, message board, forum or news group provided by the LRB.
  20. Any e-mail services supplied via the LRB Website are subject to these terms and conditions.
  21. You will not knowingly transmit any virus, malware, trojan or other harmful matter to the LRB Website. The LRB gives no warranty that the LRB Website is free from contaminating matter, viruses or other malicious software and to the fullest extent permitted by law disclaims all liability of any kind including liability for any damages, losses or costs resulting from damage to your computer or other property arising from access to the LRB Website, use of it or downloading material from it.
  22. The LRB does not warrant that the use of the LRB Website will be uninterrupted, and disclaims all liability to the fullest extent permitted by law for any damages, losses or costs incurred as a result of access to the LRB Website being interrupted, modified or discontinued.
  23. The LRB Website contains advertisements and promotional links to websites and other resources operated by third parties. While we would never knowingly link to a site which we believed to be trading in bad faith, the LRB makes no express or implied representations or warranties of any kind in respect of any third party websites or resources or their contents, and we take no responsibility for the content, privacy practices, goods or services offered by these websites and resources. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability for any damages or losses arising from access to such websites and resources. Any transaction effected with such a third party contacted via the LRB Website are subject to the terms and conditions imposed by the third party involved and the LRB accepts no responsibility or liability resulting from such transactions.
  24. The LRB disclaims liability to the fullest extent permitted by law for any damages, losses or costs incurred for unauthorised access or alterations of transmissions or data by third parties as consequence of visit to the LRB Website.
  25. While 'subscriber only' content on the LRB Website is currently provided free to subscribers to the print edition of the LRB, the LRB reserves the right to impose a charge for access to some or all areas of the LRB Website without notice.
  26. These terms and conditions are governed by and will be interpreted in accordance with English law and any disputes relating to these terms and conditions will be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales.
  27. The various provisions of these terms and conditions are severable and if any provision is held to be invalid or unenforceable by any court of competent jurisdiction then such invalidity or unenforceability shall not affect the remaining provisions.
  28. If these terms and conditions are not accepted in full, use of the LRB Website must be terminated immediately.

In​ 1956 the Whitechapel Gallery hosted the influential exhibition This Is Tomorrow, in which teams of artists and architects were invited to create installations that presented their different visions of the future. Participants included leading figures from the Independent Group, such as Eduardo Paolozzi and the architects Peter and Alison Smithson, who displayed a series of found objects in a post-apocalyptic mirrored shed. Richard Hamilton’s group presented a funfair vision that launched the British Pop Art movement. Robby the Robot, star of the science-fiction movie Forbidden Planet, opened the show because, according to the critic Reyner Banham, he was much ‘easier to book than Marilyn Monroe’.

Banham wrote an essay, in the form of concrete poetry, for the accompanying catalogue, which was designed by IG member Edward Wright (who went on to create Scotland Yard’s revolving sign). It was this spiral bound scrapbook, with a cobalt blue cover and cheap offset lithography, that made Richard Hollis want to be a graphic designer. Wright’s cultural references, Hollis said, ‘were almost entirely to things outside this country and his work was unlike what others were doing. His “This is Tomorrow” had no precedent and no direct influence. But it is one of the most memorable pieces of design made here.’ In 1957, Hollis quit Wimbledon Art School to become, in his own description, a ‘freelance dropout’, in thrall to the new avant-garde.

A decade later, Mark Glazebrook, the disorganised but incisive new director of the Whitechapel Art Gallery, was wandering around the Central School of Art when he came across Hollis, then a tutor in the graphic design department. Hollis, who had learned typography from a student of Wright’s, was living in Bloomsbury with his partner, the cartoonist Posy Simmonds, and had just resigned from his post as art editor of New Society. The school had broken up for the holidays and the studios were empty of all competition. When Glazebrook remarked that he was looking for someone to redesign the Whitechapel’s letterhead, Hollis offered to have a go.

The typeface Hollis chose was Block, a rugged, heavyset font with wobbly edges that was contemporary with and reflected the architecture of the building. The Whitechapel Gallery, built in 1901, was the brainchild of a local curate, Samuel Barnett, who wanted to bring culture, as well as religion, to the slums. The distinctive Art Nouveau structure was designed by Charles Harrison Townsend, and is dominated by a squat, Romanesque arch, placed, rather eccentrically, off-centre to make way for a modest door that used to lead to the upper galleries. It is clad in glazed terracotta bricks, and the roofline is capped by two book-ending towers so that it resembles a gatehouse of culture.

Perhaps to echo these turrets, Hollis split the design of his new letterhead to accommodate the anticipated fold in the page: THE WHITECHAPEL … ART GALLERY (a design mimicked by the Serpentine today). He was to design everything for the Whitechapel, as it came to be known, until Glazebrook’s departure in 1972. All his designs had a thrifty, cut and paste urgency, like political flyers, playing clever games with folds and found type and imagery. He combined a Swiss rigour with a willingness to transgress design rules, and set the standard for contemporary art publications. He created innovative posters and catalogues for exhibitions of the work of Donald Judd, Patrick Heron, Richard Long and David Hockney. When Hockney drew a portrait of Glazebrook, he chose to represent him with Hollis’s 1970 catalogue in his lap.

Christopher Wilson’s excellent Richard Hollis Designs for the Whitechapel, the final book from Hyphen Press, is not only a detailed analysis of the work of Hollis, with whom Wilson collaborated from 1999 to 2004, but a story of aesthetic and social change as told through the gallery, which had a reputation as the most exciting exhibition space in London.* Mixed with the archival graphic material is a rich history that traces the introduction of contemporary art in Britain. By 1972, the Whitechapel was facing stiff competition from the Hayward, the ICA and the Tate, and the Sunday Times asked: ‘Does the Whitechapel have any function to perform in the Seventies?’ The Docklands had closed, leading to mass unemployment in the area, and Tower Hamlets’ cash-strapped council withdrew its grant, on the grounds that the institution wasn’t any longer working for the benefit of the local community.

Glazebrook was forced to resign and went to work for Colnaghi’s, a commercial gallery in Mayfair. Hollis, also out of a job, created his best-known and most widely disseminated work: the cover for John Berger’s Ways of Seeing (1972), the book that accompanied the documentary series. (Berger had taught Hollis drawing as a student, and Hollis also designed a striking jacket for his novel G.) The first episode opened with Berger wielding a Stanley knife in the National Gallery and cutting the head from Botticelli’s Mars and Venus. Hollis brought a similar iconoclasm to his design for the book, which he arranged like an illustrated lecture.

On the cover, Hollis centred the title and author credit but then launched straight into the first paragraphs of the book, whose text was ranged left (the book remained in print until 2008, but later editions would correct this heresy and align everything left). Wide paragraph indents allowed for the cover image – Magritte’s A Key of Dreams – also to be centred. Inside, the imagery was black and white, and the text was entirely set in bold, so as to have the same weight as the pictures. Hollis liked to share the credit for his irreverent design with the then art editor at BBC Books, Peter Campbell, who designed the LRB and many of its covers, and with whom Hollis would later collaborate on LRB books: ‘he just let us get on with it.’ His director at Penguin, Hans Schmoller, was so enraged by the heavy type and unsystematic alignments that he hurled his copy down the corridor in disgust.

Wilson’s book also charts the meteoric rise of Nicholas Serota, who had first worked at the Whitechapel in 1971 when, as an exhibitions officer at the Arts Council, he helped install a retrospective of Kenneth and Mary Martin. In 1976, after a stint as director of the Museum of Modern Art in Oxford (where he worked on graphics with Hollis’s student Peter Miller), he took over the helm of the Whitechapel, and rehired Hollis two years later. Mark Francis, a curator at the gallery, described Serota as ‘a favoured son of the Arts Council, which was the only funding body. They knew he was the guy to lead the charge.’

Serota established relationships with contemporary art museums in Bern and Eindhoven, working collaboratively to share costs, which enabled him to bring expensive exhibitions of international art to London. The Whitechapel had what one curator described as an East/West problem. It was ‘a centre for high art surrounded by extreme poverty’. Serota invited the left-leaning Hollis back to create the 1978 poster and catalogue for Art for Society: Contemporary British Art with a Social or Political Purpose. He used rough textured paper and a deliberately cheap aesthetic that one critic compared to a trade-union bulletin. The only ‘imagery’ he used on the cover was a thick brushstroke of green paint to underline ‘society’ (a motif he had used in his earlier Hockney poster and had once suggested as the gallery’s logo). It was left to dribble down the page, like graffiti. Hollis’s thrifty, gritty aesthetic was, according to Serota, ‘appropriate to the location; it wasn’t extravagant; it wasn’t too colourful. It was modest and economical.’ For the next seven years, he was again responsible for all the gallery’s printed material.

At the end of 1983, the Whitechapel closed for a 12-month refurbishment, as the gallery expanded into an adjacent plot. It would reopen as a white cube hidden inside a 19th-century carapace. Serota wanted a new typeface to go with the uplift and invited Peter Saville, known for his record sleeve designs, to refresh the graphics. Saville was 29; Hollis was 50. Saville, the stealer of the flame, doesn’t come off well in Wilson’s account. Hollis thought graphic design should be a trade, ‘like plumbing’: Saville thought graphic designers should be more like the pop stars he usually worked with. Whereas Hollis preferred the scalpel and the spatula, Saville was drawn to the contemporary visual language of computers and coding systems, and prided himself on being attuned to the zeitgeist. Serota, who needed something more corporate-looking to attract sponsors, approved Saville’s new logo, which put WHITECHAPEL, transcribed in a spidery neoclassical font, against a background rectangle. ‘The design perhaps took us away from the community, slightly,’ he later admitted.

Send Letters To:

The Editor
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN

Please include name, address, and a telephone number.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.