A $500 book??!!! Well, that’s Taschen’s stock and trade. Yet, despite (or because of) the high sticker price, the material in Alex Steinweiss: The Inventor of the Modern Album Cover is incredibly rich. This unprecedented (in scope and dimension) document of a graphic designer’s life’s work is a deserving tribute. Steinweiss was the first designer to illustrate 78 rpm record album packages. Although a few albums had been decorated earlier, Steinweiss’ customized, European-inspired, poster-like artwork for Columbia Records was a paradigm shift in how music was seen, sold, and packaged forever after.
This 422-page slipcase hardcover (15.6 x 13 inches) contains virtually all the albums (78s and LPs–he helped “invent” the LP sleeve) he designed for Columbia, Decca, London, and Everest. Record album art director Kevin Reagan contributed a foreword, and I wrote the historical introduction. But it is Alex (92 years young) Steinweiss’s firsthand recollections woven throughout the book that make this an essential record of a 20th-century design-form-giver.
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