Digital music media (mp3s, iTunes) have been a boon to both musicians and their audiences, but one thing we lament here at Nippertown is the death of album covers, those 12×12 cardboard sleeves that were an aesthetic continuation of the music inside. So much more than mere packaging (and so much larger than a CD cover), a good album cover can be considered a work of art in its own right.
Kevin Reagan has compiled a career-spanning compendium of the work of Alex Steinweiss, the man who single-handedly changed album covers from brown paper sleeves to full-color illustrations while working for Columbia Records in 1940. Steinweiss, now 92 and living in Florida with his wife of 70 years, was an accomplished illustrator who eschewed photography, preferring to create his iconic style from collage and typography.
Published by art-book giant Taschen, “Alex Steinweiss: The Inventor of the Modern Album Cover” is available in a signed, limited edition of 1500 and will set you back a mere $500.
Sorry, Greg, you’re not getting this for your birthday.