Hipgnosis: For the love of vinyl
An exhibition of classic album art
Tuesday 15th September 2009 at Club Diario de Ibiza
HIPGNOSIS is a design company set up by artists and former film students Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey “Po” Powell in 1968 after being approached by friends Pink Floyd to design the cover art for the band’s second album A Saucerful of Secrets. Their much-imitated style, often a mixture of high quality photography, surrealism and narrative images has made them probably the most famous album artists of all time. Later joined by Peter Christopherson (of Coil), they have produced some of the most memorable sleeve images ever seen.
Now a new book For the Love of Vinyl: the Album Art of Hipgnosis has been published by Picture Box Inc. Including essays by Nick Mason, Peter Blake and Paula Scher, the book features many of the team’s best-known spreads. An exhibition of limited edition prints from the book will also be on show in Ibiza as from Tuesday.
Following A Saucerful of Secrets, Hipgnosis went on to create the singular and striking Pink Floyd look for Dark Side of the Moon, Atom Heart Mother, Animals, Wish You Were Here, Ummagumma and other albums. Storm also created the LED-lit cover for Pink Floyd’s live CD Pulse.
Storm and Po have also created album covers for Led Zeppelin, T Rex, Al Stewart, Roy Harper, 10cc, Electric Light Orchestra, Wishbone Ash, Roxy Music, Anthrax, Genesis, The Pretty Things, AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Peter Garbriel, Yes, Hawkwind, The Moody Blues, Todd Rundgren, and Scorpions, amongst others. Storm’s more recent work includes the album art for Muse, Ethnix, Phish, Ian Dury and the Blockheads, Your Code Name Is: Milo and Audioslave.
Storm on being asked to design the cover for Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy:
“Good grief, how do you come up with ideas for the biggest band in the known universe? Gods of rock surrounded as much by myth as by statistics. We were flattered, thrilled and fairly scared I’d say. I remember that one of the first ideas involved flying to Peru and photographing the Nazca plain where there are huge markings in the earth, decipherable only from the air, attesting to the idea that aliens had previously visited our planet, obviously a big enough idea for Zeppelin, but somewhat expensive. They decided instead to go with an idea I’d had from reading Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke, in which kids from the future were imagined to coalesce spiritually in mass mutation and leave the earth as a tower of flaming energy. Yup, that should be big enough for Zeppelin.
Our variant was to have blonde blue-eyed kids (Midwich Cuckoos) clambering across the rocks, climbing towards a fiery dawn. The location chosen was the Giant’s causeway in Northern Ireland, whose hexagonal, basalt rocks seemed the perfect setting, natural but magical. Unfortunately the weather was not so magical, it was grey and flat. Po was undaunted, and took the picture in black and white, which was then painstakingly hand-coloured bit by bit, inch by inch, and the sky made a vivid orange, in an effort to make it dramatic and inflamed. In retrospect I sometimes feel this design is a tad garish, of not kitsch, in its colouration, but mostly it works as a treat, though they didn’t think so in Oklahoma and Spain, where the cover was banned.”
Hipgnosis (as Green Back Films) have also created many music videos including 10cc’s Dreadlock Holiday, Paul Young’s Wherever I Lay My Hat and Yes’ Owner of a Lonely Heart. Storm also filmed both The Division Bell and Momentary Lapse of Reason tours for Pink Floyd.
The list goes on and on. Now an exhibition of their album art has come to Ibiza and will be previewed this Tuesday at the Club Diario in Ibiza Town. Storm has flown in from London to be at the event, while Po is taking the boat over from his home on Formentera. Limited edition prints will be available to buy on the night. There will also be some editions of the book For the Love of Vinyl available for purchase.
Full interview with Storm and Po to follow next week.
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