The Man Who Commissioned Glaser’s Dylan

Posted inThe Daily Heller
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John Berg made, set and broke records, literally and figuratively. As Paul Nini wrote for the AIGA Journal, “As art director (and later creative director and vice president) of Columbia/CBS Records from 1961 until 1985, Berg oversaw a golden age of record cover design. From his office in New York’s Midtown he created covers for Dylan, Springsteen and Monk, to name just a few. He commissioned photography from Avedon and illustrations from Glaser and Chwast. He won four Grammys and countless other music and design industry awards. If you’ve ever purchased any popular music from that era, there’s a good chance that it was released by Columbia . . . ” Now his work is being celebrated with an exhibition at the Guild Hall‘s Wasserstein Gallery (158 Main Street in East Hampton, New York) from October 27 through January 6, 2013.

Berg was nominated for 29 Grammys and won four. In a 25-year-long career with Columbia Records, he designed over 5,000 record covers, including the first Bob Dylan album, Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water, many by Miles Davis, all the Chicago albums, and Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run, and commissioned Milton Glaser’s classic Dylan poster. My favorite is Thelonious Monk’s Underground. I always wanted a room like that.

Thelonious Monk: Underground. Columbia CS 9632. 1968. Design: John Berg / Photo: Steve Horn / Norman Griner.

Miles Davis: Bitches Brew / Columbia GP26, 1970. Painting: Mati Klarwein / Design: John Berg.

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