An exhibition in London celebrates the art of vinyl and its covers. A love letter to the much-prized 30cm x 30cm square format that is the Album Cover, a fascinating journey through significant moments in musical, artistic and cultural history.
For the Record: Photography & the Art of the Album Cover celebrates the unique ‘object d’art’ that is the Album Cover and reflects upon its role in shaping and making artists – both in front of and behind the camera.
The exhibition with over 200 album covers highlights the central role played by photography in defining artists and bands, and showcases some of the most iconic album covers of our times. While many of the artists on the covers are instantly recognisable, the exhibition illuminates the often overlooked and multifaceted contributions of photographers and other visual artists to the identity of the ‘stars’ and the labels themselves.
Featuring work from such photographic and artistic luminaries as Andy Warhol, Cindy Sherman, David Bailey, David LaChapelle, Ed Ruscha, Elliott Erwitt, Guy Bourdin, Helen Levitt, Irving Penn, Jeff Wall, Joseph Beuys, Juergen Teller, Lee Friedlander, Nan Goldin, Richard Avedon, William Eggleston and more, many of whom had their careers launched through their cover images, the exhibition also looks at the contribution of a range of equally visionary, though perhaps lesser-known artists, photographers, graphic designers and creatives.
The exhibition considers the significance of the visual iconography adopted by a range of different musical genres. While the highly stylised graphics of the Hipgnosis design agency exemplified a technicolour, surrealistic, and utopian imaginary world for Pink Floyd, other choices of artwork illustrate how the album cover has repurposed and re-appropriated many of the century’s anonymous press and social documentary images that have acquired symbolic status beyond their original meaning.
This is especially evident in the series of covers for historic blues recordings released by the Yazoo label in the 1960s, featuring startling documentary images from Jack Delano and Dorothea Lange (amongst others) reflecting the conditions in America’s deep south.
For the Record: Photography & The Art of The Album Cover is curated and presented in collaboration with collector and exhibition originator, Antoine de Beaupré, whose collection of 15,000+ albums form the basis of the display.
The Photographers’ Gallery – London
Until 12 June 2022
Discover more here: thephotographersgallery.org.uk