Beginning Sept. 6, the Anderson Gallery at Drake University will feature an exhibit with more than 200 examples of the most inspired LP and CD packaging designs produced in the last five decades. The exhibit, “The Material Aspect: 50 Years of Popular Music Packaging,” is free and open to the public, and will remain open until Oct. 18.
The exhibition opens with the bright, psychedelic LP designs of the 1960s, and transitions through the eras of pop, punk, grunge, techno, and contemporary postmodernism. An eclectic array of music explores how album design enhances consumer experience with recordings from groups like The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Patti Smith, Radiohead, and The Sex Pistols.
“Album sleeves hold a unique place in the history of graphic design and popular culture,” says John Fender, curator of the exhibition and professor of art and design at Drake University. “The cover of a vinyl album or a CD has traditionally, and primarily, been used to sell a product. This exhibition features examples that serve more than a purely commercial function and alternately attempt to create a connection between the artist, or group, and the person experiencing the music.”
The exhibition opens with the bright, psychedelic LP designs of the 1960s, and transitions through the eras of pop, punk, grunge, techno, and contemporary postmodernism. Leading designers within major and independent labels of each decade are showcased, including Vaughan Oliver, Storm Thorgerson, Peter Saville, Rudy VanderLans, Stephen O’Malley, and Stanley Donwood, among others. The exhibition explores designs that range from playful parody to cultural protest, and places the work of the designer into the larger context of the listening experience. In addition to the visual display in the gallery, visitors will have the opportunity to hear a selection of the music from the artists exhibited and experience the relationship between the physical package and the music.
In conjunction with the exhibition, the Anderson Gallery will host a free gallery talk on Thursday, Sept. 19. Steve Rosborough, designer and founder of Moon Glyph, an Oakland-based cassette and record label, will speak at 7 p.m. Rosborough will discuss his experience designing for a small record label.
About the Anderson Gallery
The Anderson Gallery was established in 1996 as a dedicated space for the exploration of contemporary art and design. Additionally, the gallery hosts curated exhibitions of historically significant work, as well as annual showcases of student work from the Department of Art and Design. We are a not-for-profit branch of the College of Arts and Sciences at Drake University, occupying a versatile 1800 sq. ft. space on the first floor of the Harmon Fine Arts Center.
The Anderson Gallery is open six days a week: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Friday through Sunday, 12 p.m to 4 p.m; and extended hours on Thursdays from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. We are closed on Mondays and during University holidays. Additional information is available by calling (515) 271-1994 or by visiting www.artsci.drake.edu/andersongallery.