For the Record: Photography & the Art of the Album Cover

A new exhibition celebrating the art of the album cover is due to open at The Photographers’ Gallery in March. ‘For the Record: Photography & the Art of the Album Cover’ will explore the unique role of sleeve art in shaping the careers of recording artists, with over 200 pieces of work on display. 

Highlights include the “anatomically unlikely” arabesque on the cover of Grace Jones’ 1985 album ‘Island Life’, shot by Jones’ then-partner Jean-Paul Goude. Miles Davis’ monochrome visage for 1986 album ‘Tutu’ — which won art director Eiko Ishioka a Grammy Award — is another key inclusion, while Prince, who was originally due to collaborate with Davis on the latter work, features via the androgynous cover for 1988 album ‘Lovesexy’, shot by Jean Baptiste Mondino.

Works from Andy Warhol, David Bailey, David LaChapelle and Juergen Teller complete the collection, which is arranged in a fashion designed to distinguish major creative collaborations. These thematic “chapters” isolate the likes of Francis Wolff’s black-and-white work with the Blue Note jazz label, the stylised graphics of the Hipgnosis design agency — who collaborated extensively with Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, and Yazoo Records’ ‘60s blues album covers, which featured documentary images from photographers such as Dorothea Lange reflecting the conditions of the Deep South.

‘For the Record: Photography & the Art of the Album Cover’ runs from March 25 until June 12, 2022 at The Photographers’ Gallery, London.