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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About Steven Heller
Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.View all posts by Steven Heller →