Since the dawn of modernism, visual and music production have had a particularly intimate relationship. From Luigi Russolo’s 1913 Futurist manifesto L’Arte dei Rumori (The Art of Noise) to Marcel Duchamp’s 1925 double-sided discs Rotoreliefs, the 20th century saw ever more fertile exchange between sounds and shapes, marks and melodies, and different fields of composition and performance.
In Francesco Spampinato’s unique anthology of artists’ record covers, we discover the rhythm of this particular cultural history. The book presents 500 covers and records by visual artists from the 1950s through to today, exploring how modernism, Pop Art, Conceptual Art, postmodernism, and various forms of contemporary art practice have all informed this collateral field of visual production and supported the mass distribution of music with defining imagery that swiftly and suggestively evokes an aural encounter.
Along the way, we find Jean-Michel Basquiat’s urban hieroglyphs for his own Tartown record label, Banksy’s stenciled graffiti for Blur, Damien Hirst’s symbolic skull for the Hours, and a skewered Salvador Dalí butterfly on Jackie Gleason’s Lonesome Echo. There are insightful analyses and fact sheets alongside the covers listing the artist, performer, album name, label, year of release, and information on the original artwork. Interviews with Tauba Auerbach, Shepard Fairey, Kim Gordon, Christian Marclay, Albert Oehlen, and Raymond Pettibon add personal accounts on the collaborative relationship between artists and musicians.
Francesco Spampinato is a writer and historian of contemporary art and visual culture currently doing his PhD at the Sorbonne Nouvelle in Paris. He lectures on art, design, and media and was also Adjunct Professor of Contemporary Art History and Theory, and Performance Art at Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, U.S., from 2011 to 2015. In 2015 he authored Come Together: The Rise of Cooperative Art and Design (Princeton Architectural Press) and Can You Hear Me? Music Labels by Visual Artists (Onomatopee).
Julius Wiedemann studied graphic design and marketing, and was an art editor for digital and design magazines in Tokyo. His many TASCHEN titles include Illustration Now!, Logo Design, Jazz Covers, and Information Graphics.