Legendary album covers on display in “For the Record” at the Photographers’ Gallery


The Photographers’ Gallery will host a collection of the most legendary album covers photographed by photographers. The display, titled For the record: the photography and the art of the album cover will be exhibited at the Photographers’ Gallery in London from March 25 to June 12, 2022.

Celebrating the unique artistry that is album art, this exhibition reflects on the most iconic album covers of our time and their role in defining music and shaping creators, both in front of and behind the camera.

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We all recognize the legendary photo of the Beatles crossing Abbey Road captured by Iain Macmillan, or even Nirvana’s Nevermind album cover with the controversial swimming naked baby photographed by Kirk Weddle, or maybe you’re more of a rocks fan. loving pop-art?

The Rolling Stones, Love You Live, Rolling Stones Records COC 2-9001, USA, 1977. (Image credit: Andy Warhol / The Photographers’ Gallery)

The way we view the music of legendary artists is often influenced by his album cover, as well as the associated imagery that appeared on intricate vinyl record covers. More than 200 album covers were brought together in the creation of For registration, highlighting the important collaborations and connections between visual and recording artists, which have helped shape our better understanding of music and photographic history.

My favorite album cover would be The Clash’s London Calling, taken by NME photographer Pennie Smith, featuring Paul Simonon smashing his bass guitar live on stage at the New York Palladium on September 21, 1979. The photo was unplanned, unexpected and a Bit of a blur as Smith took a few steps back to avoid a collision with guitar fragments. Live music shots are much less often chosen for use as album covers, although this shot from Smith is everything a punk rock album cover should be in my opinion.

Led Zeppelin, Physical Graffitti, Swang Song – SSK 89400. England, 1975. (Image credit: Elliott Erwitt/AGI/Mike Doud/Peter Corriston/The Photographers’ Gallery)

The exhibition will supposedly be organized around a series of thematic “chapters”, displaying the physical covers themselves and illustrating the singular and longer-term creative collaborations that have continued with artists and labels. For example, Lee Friedlander’s symbiotic relationship with Atlantic Records alongside his covers of the great Ray Charles.

The central role that photography has played in formulating instantly recognizable works of art is defined by this exhibition, with an additional aim of illuminating the often overlooked and multifaceted contributions of photographers and visual artists to the identity of ” stars”, famous celebrities and labels. themselves. For registration also recognizes the contributions of equally visionary but lesser-known artists, photographers, graphic designers and creatives.

Diana Ross, Silk Electric, RCA – AFL1-4384, New York, USA, 1982. (Image credit: Andy Warhol / The Photographers’ Gallery)

Collector and initiator of the exhibition, Antoine de Beaupré, organized For the Record with the basis of the exhibition formed from his personal collection of more than 15,000 albums. We can expect to see works by such 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 many others whose careers were launched through the creation of their album cover images.

For registration also considers the importance of visual iconography which has been adopted by a range of other musical genres, such as the stylized Technicolor graphics and utopian imagery created for Pink Floyd having been repurposed from numerous anonymous press images and social documentaries of the century that have acquired a symbolic status beyond their original meaning.

Prince, Lovesexy, Paisley Park – 9 25720-1, USA, 1988. (Image credit: Jean-Baptiste Mondino / The Photographers Gallery)

For the record: the photograph and album cover art promises to be a comprehensive presentation that offers a love letter in the popular 30cm x 30cm square format that is the album cover, while detailing a fascinating journey through important moments in musical, artistic and cultural history . Be sure to visit this exhibition at the Photographers’ Gallery in London when it opens next month, more information can be found on the gallery website.

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