Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and Muse in Storm Thorgerson: Big and Small at Idea Generation

By Culture24 Reporter | 18 October 2011
A photo of a superimposed photo of bears in grassland
10cc LP How Dare You had the Storm Thorgerson treatment© Storm Thorgerson
Exhibition: Storm Thorgerson – Big and Small, Idea Generation Gallery, London, October 21 – November 13 2011

What makes a great album cover? When Storm Thorgerson set up design company Hipgnosis with Aubrey Powell in the late 1960s, it was to make record sleeves rather than the snapshots which flash up on iPod screens more than 40 years later, resulting in some epic works for the likes of Black Sabbath, Genesis and 10cc.

Drenched in overbearing psychedelia, some of them forged a blueprint for some of the worst album art of all time, but others – the obvious example being Pink Floyd's immortal Dark Side of the Moon frontispiece – can lay claim to genuine iconography.

Later, Thorgerson took on more bands reflecting his own fondness for grandiosity, including Muse and The Mars Volta. He saw himself neither as an artist nor as part of the music industry, but more as a cartwheeling freethinker.

Peter Gabriel and The Steve Miller band are among the performers featured in huge format prints here. Along with his trademark preposterousness, Thorgerson's visions seem revolutionary in an age when many musicians opt for the safety net of bland profile shots (his success at persuading Irish band The Cranberries to switch from generic sofa self-portraits to the more visually arresting prospect of a man in bed on a beach, sitting upright as hundreds of red balls bounce towards him, was a surprising success even for Thorgerson.)

Billboards, bus sides, digital downloads and postage stamps accompany his works in an exhibition intended to simultaneously illustrate the diversity of options available to modern music designers.

  • Open 12pm-6pm (5pm Saturday and Sunday, 8pm October 27). Admission free.

More pictures from the show:

A photo of a superimposed photo of bears in grassland
Fans of Muse will be familiar with Storm Thorgerson's artwork for their Uprising single, in 2009© Storm Thorgerson
An image of a superimposed photo of a man in bed on a beach as red balls head towards him
The Cranberries, Wake up and Smell the Coffee (2001)
© Storm Thorgerson
An image of a superimposed photo of figures dressed in Egyptian mummy-style gear on a beach
Wrapped Virgins, made for Philadelphia band Disco Biscuits
© Storm Thorgerson
An image of an illustration of a robot figure shooting rays of light on an elevator
Thorgerson took the title of Technical Ecstasy literally in this cover for rock legends Black Sabbath
© Storm Thorgerson
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