Total Records, Rencontres d’arles 2015
THE GREAT ADVENTURE OF ALBUM COVER PHOTOGRAPHY
A history of photography through the prism of the vinyl record. These two media, which left their mark on the 20th century, interplayed in all their forms, from artwork to illustration, figuration to experimentation. The show is based on this diversity of intentions and propositions. The first two images published on an album cover— an artsy vision of Broadway and a more figurative shot of a cowboy—already suggested that anything was possible. The format—33 rpm, 45 rpm, a circle in a square—encapsulates almost the whole history of photography.
Many photographers have left their mark on these 30×30 cm covers. Photography has played a leading role in the history of recorded music. Looking at an album cover, you can almost hear what you see. Photographers illustrated many classics. Who hasn’t purchased a record based on its cover? The image of Abbey road has come down through the past half‐century just as surely as the beatles’ music. The rolling stones’ Sticky Fingers record sleeve featured Andy Warhol’s famous crotch shot, but the world’s foremost photographers, including david bailey, hiro, Annie Leibovitz and robert franck, illustrated some of the group’s other album covers.
Some photographers built a style; others built icons. Labels built visual identities where photography mattered more than anything else: Francis Wolff’s black and white photos for Blue Note, ECM’s shades of grey, the flashy colours of hypnosis, etc. House productions foreshadowed a sound. Conversely, album covers featured many of the century’s symbolic, historic images: a portrait of Céline, the Great depression seen through the eyes of the farm security Administration photographers, May 1968, Black Power in the United States, etc. Every technique—from photojournalism to photomontage, photo booths, photos used for a purpose other than that for which they were intended, overexposed photos and photos within the photo— can be found in these 30×30 cm squares. The deeper you dig, the vaster the subject seems.
Exhibition curators: Antoine de Beaupré, Serge vincendet, and Sam Stourdzé.
With the complicity of Jacques Denis.
The section ‘Francis Wolff and Blue Note Records’ is produced by the KYOTOGRAPHIE Festival,
With Michael Cuscuna (Mosaic Records) and Lucille Reyboz & Yusuke Nakanishi (KYOTOGRAPHIE) as exhibition curators.
Prints by Tokyo Color Kogeisha, for the Blue Note section.
Paul McCartney album covers photographed by Linda McCartney.
Curated by Paul and Mary McCartney and produced by Linda enterprises Ltd, London.
Printing by Sean Mulcahy at Metro imaging, London.
Wallpapers by Central DUPON images.
Framing by plasticollage and Circad, Paris, and europlast, Aubervilliers.
Publication: Total Records, la grande aventure des pochettes de disques photographiques, éditions 213, 2015.
Texts: Jacques Denis.
Exhibition venue: Atelier des forges, parc des Ateliers.