Tag Archive | Album Covers

Designing Home: Jews and Midcentury Modernism at The Museum of Jewish Heritage

Kaufman House
Julius Shulman Photo of Richard Nuetra’s Kaufman House in Palm Springs, CA (All Photos by Gail. Click on Any Image to Enlarge for Details)

Anyone smitten with Midcentury Design (as encapsulated and popularized by the Mad Men aesthetic) should plan a visit to the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, for their fantastic exhibit Designing Home: Jews and Midcentury Modernism. I was fortunate to attend a private preview of the exhibit the evening before it opened to the public, and was not only visually thrilled by this comprehensive showcase of vintage furnishings, housewares, graphics, and architecture, but I really learned a lot about the people behind these great Chicago interior designers.

Midcentury Furniture
Midcentury Furniture Featuring George Nelson’s Marshmallow Sofa by Herman Miller

Designing Home: Jews and Midcentury Modernism explores how Jewish emigrants and American-born designers and architects helped spark America’s embrace of midcentury modernism — forging a bold new direction in design and thought. The exhibit focuses on the roles of more than 30 Jewish architects, designers, and patrons, including Anni Albers, George Nelson, and Richard Neutra; as well as others whose fascinating life stories and important contributions have received less acclaim.

Here are some favorite highlights from the exhibit!

Furniture By Paul Frankl
Sofa and Shelves By Paul Frankl

Furnture by Alvin Lustig
Furniture by Alvin Lustig

Furniture by Harry Rosenthal
Furniture by Harry Rosenthal, William Schiff House by Richard Neutra, (San Francisco, CA)

X-110 House
Exterior of X-110 House (Right), Interior of X-110 House (Center and Left). Prototype developed by Joseph Eichler. Designed by A. Quincy Jones and Frederick E. Emmons (Photos By Ernest Braun)

Kaufman House
Richard Neutra’s Kaufman House (1946), Palm Springs CA, (Above and Below Photos by Julius Shulman, 1949)

Kaufman House Pool
Kaufman House Pool

Banner in Exhibition Hall
Banner in Exhibition Hall Featuring Modern Kitchen Appliances of the Day

The Modtini

The opening reception featured an open bar where they served this delicious classic vodka cocktail, the Modtini!

George Tscherny
Lark Cigarette Packages By George Tscherny, 1968

Booky Covers By Alvin Lustig
Book Covers By Alvin Lustig (1943, 1945)

Household Items by Henry Dreyfuss
Above and Below, Household Items by Henry Dreyfuss
Household Items by Henry Dreyfuss
Thermostat, Pink Princess Phone, Alarm Clock

Ernest Sohn Designed Products
Ernest Sohn, Esquire Coffee Pot with Lid, Creamer, Sugar Bowl with Lid, Small Casserole Dish with Lid (1963). (Center) Esquire Large Casserole Dish with Lid (1963). (Lower) Doric Coffee Urn with Lid and Stand, Creamer, Sugar Bowl with Lid, and Tray (1959)

Album Covers By Alex Steinweiss
Album Covers By Alex Steinweiss

In 1939, Alex Steinweiss (a graduate of NYC’s Parsons school of Design) designed what is recognized as the first example of album cover art and soon became the art director at Columbia Records. During the 1940s, he was asked to develop a packaging solution to protect a new product: the long playing 133 1/3 rpm vinyl record. Steinweiss designed a paper jacket that quickly became the industry standard. He oversaw cover art for Columbia up until the 1070s, designing thousands of album covers.

Album Cover By Alex Steinweiss

Steinweiss’s covers combine witty cartoon figures, abstract shapes, bright colors and his signature, curly hand-drawn lettering.

Corporate Logos
Corporate Logos by Saul Bass, Louis Danziger, Paul Rand

Movie Ad for the man with the Golden Arm
Movie Ad for the Man with the Golden Arm By Saul Bass

There is so much to see and learn at the Designing Home exhibit and I really cannot recommend it highly enough. Aside from this one show, the museum hosts many other permanent exhibits and is situated right on the water in Battery Park City, which means spectacular views!

Designing Home: Jews and Midcentury Modernism is Currently on Exhibit at The Museum of Jewish Heritage, A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, Located at Edmond J. Safra Plaza, 36 Battery Place, Battery Park City, New York, NY 10280 (By Subway: Take the 4 or 5 Train to Bowling Green and walk west along Battery Place). Admission is Free on Wednesday Evenings, and you can visit them online at MJHNYC Dot Org for Admission, Hours and Other Exhibit Information. I’m not quite sure when the Designing Home Exhibit ends, so maybe give them a call at 646-437-4202 before you plan your visit!

Designing Home Signage
Banner

Bjork Retrospective at MOMA!

Fans on Queue for Songlines
Fans Queue Up for the Black Lake Video Screening at the Bjork Retrospective at MOMA (All Photos By Gail)

I’ve been aware of the Icelandic singer/performer Bjork since the first album by her band Sugarcubes was released in 1986, but aside from what a person who pays somewhat close attention to modern music can’t help but absorb through the pop culture ether, I didn’t know / care much about her / her music before making the trip to the Museum of Modern Art at an earlier-than-usual hour on March 8th for the opening day of its much-hyped Bjork Retrospective.

Singles Covers
Assorted Artwork from Bjork’s Singles’ Sleeves

It wasn’t necessarily important to me to wake up at 6 AM on the first day of DTS (groan) in order to be among the first in the door of MOMA to see an exhibit that had already garnered puzzlingly negative reviews based on a press preview that I was somehow not invited to. But Geoffrey is a diehard fan, and, as such, he insisted we simply must go on that Sunday. Based on the few photos I’d already seen, it definitely looked like there would be lots of cool costumes and props, so how could we possibly not have fun, right? Plus, we always get in for free. Win win!

Singles Covers
More Singles Cover Artwork

Here’s what we saw when we got inside:

The Bjork exhibit has three parts. First, there is a cinema where you can watch a retrospective of all of Bjork’s videos, from Debut (1993) through Biophilia (2011). I will go back another time before the exhibit closes to check these out.

There is also a screening of a ten minute video for the song “Black Lake” that Bjork made especially for this exhibit. “Black Lake” is from her latest album, Vulnicura, which Geoffrey informs me is all about her breakup with long-time partner, Avant-garde artist Matthew Barney, who, bluntly put, is a bit of a weirdo.

“Black Lake” is like a very dramatic mini opera, and the video shows extended shots of Bjork kneeling on the painful-looking rock floor of a cave, plus some other stuff. All I could think of was that I bet her knees hurt. You can tell that Bjork is a good actress and I enjoyed the video, although the song is a pretty big downer.

Singles Covers
Yet More Singles Cover Artwork

The main part of the exhibit is what everyone is calling “Bjork The Ride,” but which is really called Songlines. To get into Songlines, you need a separate, timed entry ticket that you will need to pick up at the front desk of the museum as soon as you get in. When we went, we had to wait in a line that was only about half a block down the 54th Street side of the museum, but I am thinking we were lucky that it was not much longer. We got our timed tickets at 11 AM and they were for the 12:45 PM entrance to Songlines. So we had one hour and 45 minutes to get “Black Lake” out of the way (total waiting and viewing time: 20 minutes) and then fart around in the museum for another hour and change.

Bjork Songlines Exit
Bjork Songlines Exhibit Exit

Finally it was our time to experience Songlines, and we were so excited we could barely live! You first enter through a darkened hallway where you can stand around and watch rows of monitors showing clips of performances from Bjork’s various tours, but who wants to do that? We wanted to get to the ride, man!

Before you enter the labyrinth that is the Songlines exhibit, an attendant will equip you with an iPod thingy that hangs around your neck and plays Bjork’s period-appropriate music as well as a narrative / story about a magical princess, or something, as you walk through the various rooms. They will tell you that it takes about 40 minutes to walk the entire exhibit, and…you’re off on your Bjork Adventure!

Model For Debut Album Cover
3-D Model for Debut Cover

Each section is dedicated to one of Bjork’s albums. You will see costumes, props and personal items and you can take as much time as you want looking at everything. I enjoyed the princess story but it was a little disorienting to me with her music also playing over it. It reminded me of being on acid, to be honest.

Airmail Jacket by Hussein Chalayan
Airmail Jacket by Hussein Chalayan

All is Full of Love Robots
All is Full of Love Robots

I am not going to be able to add much information here, because I don’t even own one of her albums, and I honestly only know three or four Bjork songs, one being “Army of Me,” which is a work of genius.

Baby Bjork

Look! It’s baby Bjork! How cute is she? So Cute.

Pagan Poetry Dress and Vespertine Music Box
Pagan Poetry Dress and Vespertine Music Box

This display reminded me of the Alexander McQueen exhibit at The Met that happened a few years ago, which was just insane. It is probably no accident that McQueen designed a lot of Bjork’s dresses.

Swan Dress By Marjan Pejoski
Swan Dress By Marjan Pejoski

Remember this dress that Bjork wore to the Academy Awards a few years ago? Of course you do.

Bell Dress by Alexander McQueen
Bell Dress by Alexander McQueen; Medulla Hairpiece by Shoplifter

This dress is just unbelievably gorgeous.

Crystal Mask by Val Garland
Crystal Mask by Val Garland

Body Sculpture By Bernhard Wilhelm
Body Sculpture By Bernhard Wilhelm, Volta Era

This is my favorite thing in the entire exhibit.

Feather Ear Pieces By Shaun Leane
Feather Ear Pieces By Shaun Leane

Bjork Biophilia Dress
Biophilia Dress

Biophilia Dress Close up
Biophilia Dress (Detail)

I really thought that Songlines was just excellent, and I would recommend it to anyone, but Geoffrey offered his take on why a lot of Bjork fans don’t dig it. For him, when you consider that Bjork’s career has spanned thirty years (pre-dating her work with Sugarcubes), there was just so much left out that it couldn’t avoid being let down, and I admit that I see his point. So, I guess therein lays the rub. You’ll have to judge for yourself, but you should definitely go and check it out!

Bjork Retrospective will be on Exhibit through June 7th, 2015 at the Museum of Modern Art, Located at 11 West 53rd Street, Between 5th and 6th Avenues, in NYC.

Read Geoffrey’s review, which is much more detailed from the perspective of an obsessed, Bjork-completist fan, at This Link!

Stories Behind The Beatles’ Album Covers


Image Source

Just when you think you know everything there is to know about The Beatles, Neatorama runs a post with a few cool stories behind different Beatles album covers. I especially love this one about HELP!, a film and album which already hold so many cool memories for me:

For the HELP! photo shoot, photographer Robert Freeman warmed up by shooting publicity stills of the band playing around in the Austrian snow. In the process, he realized that their arm motions reminded him of semaphore, a system of emergency naval communications using waving flags. Because the album title was conveniently four characters long, the photographer had each member of the group spell out a letter using the code. However, Freeman found that the arm motions for H-E-L-P were much less aesthetically pleasing than the positions for N-U-J-V, so he decided to use those letters instead.

Read more stories behind the covers for The White Album, Sgt Pepper and Abbey Road at This Link.

New UK Postage Stamps To Feature Rock Album Sleeve Art!

Album Stamps Blur and New Order
Blur’s Parklife and New Order’s Power, Corruption and Lies Shown Above

On January 7, 2010, Britain’s Royal Mail will launch a collector’s-minded Album Cover Stamps series featuring a set of ten 1st class stamps designed by Studio Dempsey. The remarkable series celebrates classic album covers by some of England’s most famous and enduring rock bands including Led Zeppelin, Blur, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, New Order, Pink Floyd and Primal Scream. Each stamp will be uniquely shaped, as shown in these images, adding a glimpse of a vinyl disc poking out of each record sleeve – very cool! Read more of the story behind these very rockin’ stamps at this link.

Album Stamps Stones and Bowie
Rolling Stones Let It Bleed, David Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust Shown Above

Happy Birthday, Jerry, Tommy and Joe

Jerry Garcia Young
I Like Jerry’s Shirt In This Photo

Jerry Garcia, guitarist and songwriter for the Grateful Dead and undeniably one of contemporary rock music’s most enduring pop culture icons, was born on this day, August 1st, in 1942.

Tommy Bolin - Teaser

Today is also a day to remember the late Tommy Bolin, guitarist for the James Gang and Deep Purple, who died of a heroin overdose at the very young age of just 25, and who was born on this day in 1951.

Joe Elliott Union Jack

Last but not least, Happy Birthday to Joe Elliot of Def Leppard who was born in 1959. Def Leppard can still kick any band’s ass live.