2 April 2011
New trade version of monograph celebrating the inventor of LP design
The first illustrated album cover – for ‘albums’ of 78rpm records – was designed in 1940 by Alex Steinweiss, art director at Columbia Records.
The 94-year-old Steinweiss rarely receives the recognition given to Paul Rand or Lester Beall, widely considered to be among the form-givers of American Modernism, but he was just as much a pioneer of corporate branding insofar as he gave a major recording company a distinctive identity.
In 2009, Taschen published the literally massive Alex Steinweiss: The Inventor of the Modern Album Cover (top) an exhaustive survey of his music work and other graphic design. At 422 pages, measuring 34cm by 28.3cm, it is possibly the largest design monograph ever published. Taschen has now made the previously limited-editionbook available in a more affordable trade version.
It was Steinweiss who, in the early 1950s, after designing hundreds of packages, posters and catalogues for Columbia, created the paperboard LP cover to protect and market the latest revolution in music delivery. In the process, he defined the visual identity of recorded music for decades to come.
Alex Steinweiss, The Inventor of the Modern Album Cover
Hardcover, 420pp. £44.99 (Taschen).
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