Alex Steinweiss, Inventor of the Modern Album Cover


How did some album art become so iconic that it's inseparable from the music? Mention Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, for example, and it usually conjures images of the iconic triangle prism on the cover. (Click below images for detail.)

Without Alex Steinweiss, Columbia Records' first art director in 1940, the pop culture phenomenon known as the album cover may not have seen such an epic evolution. A new limited edition book in Taschen's "Artist Edition" line launching this week (see event details below), "Alex Steinweiss, The Inventor of the Modern Album Cover," immortalizes the person who revolutionized record packaging and consequently, how the design impacted us all.


Steinweiss was only 23 when he landed the coveted gig at Columbia Records. After suggesting that artwork should replace the plain brown wrapping that 78 rpm records came in, Columbia saw an 800 percent spike in sales.


Steinweiss, "the man who made music for the eyes," went on to illustrate thousands of album covers, from Bing Crosby to symphonic works by Rachmaninoff. Taschen's 422-page, signed tribute includes not only a selection of these, but other work the young art director did throughout his career, including logos, labels, U.S. Navy posters and his own pieces. Looking through the book's preview on the Taschen site, you'll see how wonderfully diverse and stylistic his covers are.

The slip-covered book sells online from Amazon for $500.

Alex Steinweiss, Inventor of the Modern Album Cover Book Launch
Thursday, 3 December 2009, 7-9pm
Taschen Beverly Hills
354 North Beverly Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210 map
RSVP to tel. +1 310 274 4300 or store-beverly [at] taschen [dot] com