Tag Archives: Paperboard

Cover story. 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.

You can now read the full text of Steven Heller’s Reputations interview with Steinweiss in Eye 76, the music design special issue.

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).

Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It’s available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions, back issues (including Eye 76 and single copies of the latest issue. For a visual sample, see Eye before you buy on Issuu. Eye 79 is out any moment.

Go See – New York: ‘Picasso: Guitars, 1912-1914′ at the MoMA through June 06, 2011

Pablo Picasso, Guitar (1913). Via MoMA
At a time when Picasso exhibitions are plentiful and auction sales are lucrative, the Museum of Modern Art curates an impressive exhibition, Picasso: Guitars 1912-1914, which brings together 65 works from this short period in Picasso’s career for a one-stop show in New York.  The exhibition, on view through June 6, 2011, follows the two years prior to World War I during which Picasso explored a thematically rigid style focusing on guitars, through a multidimensional set of media.

Pablo Picasso, Violin Hanging on the Wall (1912-13). Via MoMA
More text and images after the jump…

Picasso, cardboard Guitar (1912). Via MoMA

Picasso, sheet metal Guitar (1914). Via MoMA
Both gifts to the museum from the artist, the two Guitar constructions are central to the exhibition and punctuate the beginning and end of this period: 1912 and 1914. The cardboard Guitar from 1912, never before exhibited in a museum, was constructed using cardboard, paper, wire, glue, and string. The physical structure of the guitar allowed Picasso a greater authority in designing the composition not only from his ability to physically rearrange his display, but also from his knowledge and familiarity with the guitar he acquired when building it. Picasso later rearticulated the guitar in 1914 using ferrous sheet metal and wire.
Picasso Photographic composition with Construction with Guitar Player and Violin (1913). Via MoMA
As the exhibition seamlessly conveys, Picasso engaged a multitude of media including newspaper, wallpaper, sheet music, paint with grit, faux bois, faux marbre, paperboard, cardboards, and sheet metal in a radical move that marked his career with a focus on the physicality, multidimensionality, and materiality of the subject. The 65 works exhibited in Picasso: Guitars 1912-1914 uniquely demonstrate Picasso’s formal, technical and aesthetic evolution during a radically experimental time in his art.

Picasso, Installation in the artist’s studio at 242, boulevard Raspail in Paris. (1912). Via MoMA
Picasso: Guitars, 1912-1914 is on view at the MoMA until June 6, 2011.
-K. Vervoort
Related Links…
Picasso: Guitars 1912-1914 Exhibition [MoMA]
When Picasso Changed His Tune [New York Times]
The Quintessential Guitar Hero [Wall Street Journal]
Kravis, Michael Stipe Admire Picasso Guitars: Scene Last Night [Boomberg]
Picasso: Guitars 1912-1914 Examines a Moment of Radical Experimentation in 20th Century Art [ArtDaily]
Picasso’s True Grit [The Economist]
Pablo Picasso, Guitar Hero [Newsweek]