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Alex Steinweiss: The Inventor of the Modern Album Cover Hardcover – April 1, 2011

4.7 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"I love music so much and I had such ambition that I was willing to go way beyond what the hell they paid me for. I wanted people to look at the artwork and hear the music." (Alex Steinweiss) "The man who revolutionized this whole field... the father of record design, is Alex Steinweiss." (Jay Maisel, photographer)"

About the Author

Artist:
The father of record design is Alex Steinweiss, who in 1940, at the age of 23, single-handedly invented the album cover. He made thousands of classical, jazz, and pop covers for Columbia, London, Decca, and Everest and his modern designs graced the packaging, logos, and covers of dozens of distilleries, film studios, and magazines; earning him an AIGA Medal and the Art Directors Hall of Fame lifetime achievement award. Also a fine artist, Steinweiss and his wife live in Sarasota, FL.

Authors:
Kevin Reagan is a triple Grammy Award-winning art director, also honored by the AIGA, Print, and Communication Arts. As former art director of Geffen, MCA, and Maverick, he designed packages for Madonna, Beck, Sonic Youth and many others. He lives in Los Angeles.

Steven Heller, co-chair of the School of Visual Arts MFA Designer as Author Program, writes the "Visuals" column for the New York Times Book Review, and is the author of 120 books on design, illustration, and satiric art.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 420 pages
  • Publisher: Taschen (April 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 3836527715
  • ISBN-13: 978-3836527712
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.5 x 11.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,053,386 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Taschen originally published this big book as a limited edition keepsake to celebrate the design work of Alex Steinweiss. Now reprinted in a much more affordable copy so we can all enjoy looking at some remarkable album covers that still fascinate more than five decades later. The Product Details above will give you some background about the book's contents.

It's certainly a lavish production with hundreds of covers, especially those from the Columbia's 78 box sets during the forties. Steinweiss was their Art Director from 1940 (only twenty-three, too) and created fresh different designs for these boxes. Page seventy-one reveals why the covers had a rather unique look. The designs weren't printed using conventional four color process work but used three or four flat colors, whatever Steinweiss chose depending on the music style. There were no color photos and very few mono ones. This printing format dictated a rather flat graphic style that would be a challenge for any designer so Steinweiss used bright colors, graphic shapes, simple illustrations and bold typography to create an eye-catching poster style design that clearly stood out in record shops.

I love the big selection of covers for the classics. Somehow their simplicity and directness makes them feel fresh even today. Clearly the restrictive printing style encouraged this. Another restriction that inspired a creative solution was the lack of a local typesetters in Bridgeport, Connecticut where Columbia was located. So Steinweiss drew his own type, a casual hand-lettered script to use on the covers and you can see versions of this pop up on lots of the albums throughout the book. The script was eventually produced by Photo-Lettering, New York, for anyone to use: called Steinweiss Scrawl.
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Format: Hardcover
I have always had an interest in graphic design and illustration, and in the history of album cover design, Alex Steinweiss is king. This volume is a fantastic overview of Steinweiss' career, and thanks to Taschen for finally publishing it in an affordable edition. I own the previous, much smaller collection of his work, "For The Record", and have always wished for a more comprehensive retrospective. The previous reviewer has done a great job so I'll keep this short, but I would like to share an interesting anecdote. Steinweiss and his wife live in the same town in Florida as my mother, and once while I was there visiting I mentioned that fact to my mom, as I happened to have "For The Record" with me. My mom encouraged me (in the insistent way that moms do) to at least try and give him a call to tell him how much I appreciated his work. Well he wound up inviting me to his home for a visit, where I met his lovely wife and
saw some of his recent work in progress (and he autographed my book)! They were very gracious, and it was fantastic to discuss design with him and get an insight into his work process. Truly one of the great designers of the twentieth century, a pioneer, and an all around class act of a guy. Now if Taschen can do a similar book on David Stone Martin to go with the three Jim Flora paperbacks I have, my album art library will start to look complete!
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By Gaby on July 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is my favourite book. The colors, the images, the great art of Alex Steinweiss... there are no words to explain it.
Amazing experience. I love this book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Steinweiss is famous for doing many, many record album jacket designs during the period of about 1940--1965. He pioneered a unique style which is all his, though it owes something to other Midcentury Moderne sensibilities. I, in fact, remember seeing, as a kid in the 60's and 70's, a number of these album covers in the collections of my grandparents and the parents of friends and neighbors. Steinweiss had a very bold, unrestrained color sensibility, which I must admit, is often not to my liking--- it often seems crude, strident and kitschy to me, yet this sumptuous, huge monograph is a valuable part of any modern graphic designer's library, or in the library of Midcentury record enthusiasts.
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