Biography of Gordon House
Gordon House’s iconic work and enormously varied skill set has left an exceptional impact on the British art world. Born in 1932, the artist grew up in the steel producing valleys of South Wales. His occasional trips to the Glyyn Vivian Art Gallery in Swansea prompted his keen interest in art, and at the age of 14 his family sent him to art school in Bedfordshire, England. After completing his studies, Gordon House earned a living both working for an ecclesiastical sculptor, and for an advertising agency in the town of Letchworth. Here he gained the skills in typography and graphic design which enabled him to establish himself in London as a successful free-lance designer by the 1960s.
Gordon House came to prominence as a designer in a time when museums and galleries lacked coherent approaches to issues of presentation and communication. His work made London gallerists realize that simple, modular graphic layouts and distinct branding could turn their art galleries into recognizable entities. In this endeavor, Gordon House went far to set a standard for something now taken for granted in the art world.
As well as working on branding for galleries and museums at this time, Gordon House produced many of his own prints first at Kelpra Studios, and then in his own studio, White Ink which he set up with his friend Cliff White. This studio would attract artists of the likes of Eduardo Paolozzi, Richard Hamilton and Bernard Cohen, and would cement the mediums of screen printing, etching and wood engraving in the world of fine art. Gordon House’s success as a designer and print maker saw his involvement in the creation of the covers of both “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and the “White Album” by the Beatles.
Gordon House always painted alongside his career as a designer. His canvases were informed both by new large-scale, abstract art forms emerging in America, and his contemporaries which included Richard Smith, Robyn Denny and William Turnbull. As an active participator in the dynamic London art scene at the time, he partook in exhibitions at the Royal Society of British Artists Galleries and the ICA, often designing their respective catalogues. In his later career, Gordon House returned to his native Wales where he passed away in 2004.
The artist has been widely exhibited, both in group and solo shows. In 1982 the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburg held a retrospective exhibition of his graphic work which then travelled to the Brooklyn Museum, New York. Today Gordon House’s work can be found in the public collections of the Tate Britain and the Victoria & Albert in London, the MoMA in New York and the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.