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Monday, April 27, 2009

Andy Warhol, Before the Banana

Posted by Andrew Stout on Mon, Apr 27, 2009 at 10:37 AM

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In Sunday's New York Times arts section, there's a story about Paul Maréchal, a Canadian curator who has collected over 50 album covers designed by Andy Warhol. Almost half of these covers were previously unaccounted for by the Andy Warhol Museum. Most of those were illustrated during the '50s for jazz labels like Blue Note.

In pure stylistic terms, I've always found Warhol's blotted-line drawings at least as compelling as the '60s canvasses that put his name in Art history books. What his '50s drawings of shoes, cats, toes, and cupids have in common with his later iconic silk-screens is their crisp decisiveness. The images appear to arrive fully formed but somehow incomplete—a lot like an aphorism, or one-line joke. Whatever people's criticism's of Warhol's art, he could never be accused of lapsing into the muddled thinking of many of his more respected though less-famous peers. A Warhol image usually spoke in bon mots, much like the man himself:



Anyway, the fact that there are now dozens more examples of Warhol's pre-Pop album design—and a dedicated archivist making sure they see the light of day—is a rare slice of good news for record sleeve design, an art that has been on the ropes since the introduction of the CD. It's hard to believe, but that was almost 30 years ago—roughly the same time-span in which the art of album design flourished before it.

In a very roundabout way, this got me wondering: what are some of your favorite examples of album packaging?

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