Design

Alex Steinweiss: Remembering the Father of Album Art

At Art Attack, we love art in all its forms, from dance, to painting, to theater and to music. We especially love combining all of those forms, and so it was with a little sadness that we read of the passing of Alex Steinweiss at the age of 94. Steinweiss combined music and art in a way that really hadn't been done before: in the covers of albums.

In 1939, Columbia Records hired Steinweiss to do some newspaper advertisements and such, and he hit on the brilliant idea that the albums might sell better if the covers were more interesting than the plain brown wrappers they more or less were at the time. Turns out they did.

Steinweiss went on to illustrate dozens of classical and jazz covers for Columbia and left the label around the time rock and roll was on the rise. Still, "When you look at your music collection today on your iPod, you are looking at Alex Steinweiss's big idea," Paula Scher of the design firm Pentagram told the New York Times. Enjoy.

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Chris Gray has been Music Editor for the Houston Press since 2008. He is the proud father of a Beatles-loving toddler named Oliver.
Contact: Chris Gray