This study is an exploration of the idea that album covers have had an affect on the world of art and aided some forms of art to be brought into the mainstream. In order to test this hypothesis I used academic and cultural sources that explore this theory in depth. I predicted beforehand that my Hypothesis will be supported and my research will evidence this.
The popularity of music and the way Music used to be distributed meant that there would always be a market for an artist to get their work seen. Icon speaks about the importance that album covers had on the world of art by citing Sargent Peppers as a catalyst. Icon makes the claim that ”for many people the cover of Sergeant Pepper was their first exposure to contemporary art” . This is by no means beyond the realms of plausibility when you take into account the success of this album which has sold way over 5 million copies in the UK alone since it’s 1967 release. Another quote that furthers this point reads: ”it took their unprecedented popularity to alert the whole world to the potential of this new art form”, this shows that people may have tried to do this kind of thing before. But it simply didn’t have the impact or influence that the Beatles had. The designers Peter Blake and Jann Haworth were rocketed into the public eye after the album was released. This is touched upon by Icon which claims ”Before Sergeant Pepper it is doubtful if any beyond a coterie of art lovers were familiar with their work”. This quote could also be reflective of contemporary art as a whole, not Just Blake and Haworth personally. This is due to the fact Icon follows this with ‘. Notice how it says ”Contemporary art” not ”Blake and Haworth’s work”. This album cover was larger than just a showcase of the work of two great artists, it was a turning point for the art world and the influence of this cover is unparalleled.
In order to develop this idea I did more research on Sargent Peppers and came across a YouTube video entitled ”How the Beatles Changed Album Covers”, by content creator ‘nerdwriter1’. The video started by calling this cover ”perhaps the most iconic visual supplement in the history of music”. Whereas this may not be directly to art it supports the idea of how popular it is and the effect that it had from that. ”The Holy Grail of album covers” as nerdwriter1 refers to it was album cover that ”explicitly engages the audience in so many ways… In critiques, In interpretations, In comparisons, In contrasts”. This kind of thing is exactly what contemporary art is about. This adds further support the point that Icon put forward earlier about how this album cover was peoples ”first exposure to contemporary art”. It is a huge possibility that people didn’t even realise that they were viewing contemporary art but when you take into account the popularity of the cover it is difficult to suggest that in reflection these two things aren’t linked. The video then goes on to mention that Peter Blake was a ”pop artist” which is a style that ”used aspects of mass culture to bring attention to the fuzzy lines between art, advertising, news and all other forms of media”. Again, this further supports the points that Icon put across. This is due to the fact that even though these two sources discuss different things there are so man parallels to draw between the two. They are directly correlated to each other and seem to follow each other chronologically. This album being the ”most important album cover of all time” is the catalyst that made contemporary art ”propel(ed) into the mainstream”.
In the book Album: style and image in sleeve Design, Nick de Ville credits the sixties as a time in which there was ”an emergence of mass culture” that ”caused a revolution in record companies, in the market for recorded music, and in design”. This is something that goes further in supporting the previous points put across by my two other sources. This source is trying to speak of the importance of this period of music as a whole wheres as the other two are more genealised in what they credit. To further support my previous points album gives statistics on LP sales of the time and it tells us that ”Record sales grew very quick in the 1960’s”, so quick in fact it ”doubled from 32 to 65 million between 1967 and 1970 alone”. The release date of Sargent Peppers was 1st of June 1967 which shows that at the very start of this change was this album. After all of these sales and the sales that the album has it’s self it is hard not to agree that essentially the world of contemporary art was getting tonnes of advertisement. Then Nick de ville continues to say that ”over the next few decades” meaning anything after the 1960’s there would be a ”clear distinction between in-house record company design and the work of outsiders job by job”. What is shown here is that not only were the public opening there eyes more to the world of art but so were the big companies and corporations.
In conclusion I’d say that my hypothesis has been fully supported and backed up with enough evidence that shows that album cover design was a huge factor in the evolution and popularity of the world of art. I feel like these sources combine academic and cultural knowledge from a varied range of subject matters effectively and the many parallels that can be drawn between them show that my hypothesis is correct.
de Ville, Nick (2003) Album: Style and Image in Sleeve Design, Octopus Publishing Group Ltd
Icon, (1999) Sampler Contemporary Music Graphics; Laurence King Publishing
Nerdwriter1, (2015) How the Beatles Changed Album Covers, Youtube