For the record: Photography and The Art of the Album Cover

Calling all music and art lovers – Margaret Hussey explains why a new exhibition should have you in a spin 

With vinyl sales reaching record highs in 2021, it’s more than timely that a new exhibition celebrates the album cover. 

For the Record: Photography & The Art of The Album Cover at The Photographer’s Gallery in London brings together more than 200 album covers, including some of the most iconic of the last 50 years. 

Vinyl: The Rolling Stones, Love You Live, Rolling Stones Records COC 2-9001, USA, 1977. Photography & Design: Andy Warhol

One of our favourites is this brilliant image of Grace Jones on Island Life. Created by her then-partner Jean Paul Goude, the man who helped Kim Kardashian “break the internet”, it is actually a montage of separate images. It was originally published in New York magazine in 1977 before making it to this album, a compilation of Jones’s best singles, in 1985.

And who can forget this traffic-stopping image of Prince by Jean-Baptiste Mondino for Lovesexy in 1988. Seen as controversial at the time some shops in the States refused to stock the album or wrapped it in black. 

Vinyl: Diana Ross, Silk Electric, RCA – AFL1-4384, New York, USA, 1982. Photography & Design: Andy Warhol

The exhibition, which runs from March 25 until June 12, has been curated and presented in collaboration with Antoine de Beaupré, whose collection of 15,000 plus albums form the basis of the display.

There’s also the Andy Warhol cover for Diana Ross’s Silk Electric in 1982 and his gatefold for The Rolling Stones’ Love You Live in 1977.

Not to forget the most copied walk of all time – The Beatles on Abbey Road, taken by Iain Macmillan on a sunny August day in 1969. He only had a short window to take the image before crowds arrived – and took just six shots. 

The exhibition will also include Herb Ritts’ iconic image of Madonna, Robert Mappelthorpe’s intimate portrait of Patti Smith, plus Annie Leibovitz’s work with Cyndi Lauper and this beautiful close up of Miles Davies, designed by Eiko Ishioka and photographed by Irving Penn for Davis’s album Tutu in 1986. 

As a love letter to this 30cm x 30cm piece of artwork, For The Record is not to be missed. 

For the Record: Photography & the Art of the Album Cover exhibition will be on display at The Photographers’ Gallery, London from March 25 until 12 June. Admission £5, www.thephotographersgallery.org.uk

Picture captions:

Vinyl: The Rolling Stones, Love You Live, Rolling Stones Records COC 2-9001, USA, 1977. Photography & Design: Andy Warhol

Vinyl: Miles Davis, Tutu, Warner Bros Records – 1-254900, United States, 1986. 

Vinyl: The Beatles, Abbey Road, Apple Records – PCS 7088, England, 1969. Photography: Iain Macmillan; Design: John Kosh

Vinyl: Diana Ross, Silk Electric, RCA – AFL1-4384, New York, USA, 1982. Photography & Design: Andy Warhol

Vinyl: Prince, Lovesexy, Paisley Park – 9 25720-1, United States 1988. Photography: Jean-Baptiste Mondino: Design: Laura LiPuma

Vinyl: Grace Jones, Island Life, Island Records – 207 472, France, 1985. Photography Jean-Paul Goude; Design: Greg Porto

Photography: Irving Penn; Design Eiko Ishioka

feature image: Vinyl: The Rolling Stones, Love You Live, Rolling Stones Records COC 2-9001, USA, 1977. Photography & Design: Andy Warhol

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