Record Cover Art – Lecture and Show
Record Covers were miniature posters. The artists who did them were academically trained and combined the needs of commerce with aesthetics. Chris Coffin, who has been collecting records for over sixty years, will present record covers from the 40s through the 70s in a lecture at the Morristown Gateway Museum. The presentation will be Thursday night, August 11, 2016, at 7 pm. Over one hundred covers will be on display the evening of the presentation and for the following two weekends.
Until about 1940 records were sold either in plain paper sleeves or in albums which were largely unmarked. Throughout the forties and fifties, most records were issued with original art that listed the artists and music and suggested the nature of the music. The presentation Thursday night will focus on three pioneers who influenced subsequent artists and whose designs are still seen on records and CDs. Alexander Steinweiss innovated the first original record cover art in 1939. It incorporated an image of the Imperial Theater in New York City with a pattern of concentric circles which suggest a record. The theater marquee lists the contents of the album. The second pioneer to be featured is Jim Flora who succeeded Steinweiss as Art Director for Columbia Records during World War II.
In addition to producing covers in the style established by Steinweiss, Flora brought a modern abstraction and perspective to many of his covers. One featured music by New Orleans trombonist Kid Ory, pictured on the cover in a cartoonish image. The third artist who will be featured is David Stone Martin who did a thousand or more images for Folkways Records and for records produced by the jazz impresario, Norman Granz. Martin used pen and ink drawings with strong washes of color. He produced the “trumpeter” image that became the logo for Verve Records.
By about 1980 compact discs had supplanted records as the most common medium for recorded music. The smaller size of CDs changed the type of art that was used and ended one era of commercial art.
For more information you can email Chris Coffin.