Album Cover Art: A Window On World Cultures And Art History

Album Cover Art exhibition panorama of the Sisson Gallery
Thursday, August 22, 2019 to Thursday, September 26, 2019

Curated by Douglas Sjoquist

Remember vinyl albums? Those 12” platters that were put on a revolving turntable (usually 33 1/3 rotations a minute) in order to listen to recorded music that were so much a part of so many of our lives prior to the digital age. Remember that almost all of these precious (to many) discs came packaged in a 12 ¼” square cardboard sleeve that usually had information related to the music contained within.

The exhibition, “Album Cover Art: A Window On World Cultures and Art History” put together by Lansing Community College (retired) and Michigan State University Humanities Professor Douglas Sjoquist examines the role that the graphic work that adorned the covers of vinyl albums could be considered an art style in and of itself, especially during the years 1967 – 1983. Prior to 1967, most album cover art, especially in popular music, contained straight forward photographs of the performers. As many musicians began taking more control over the stylistic approaches to their music, the artwork they wanted to reflect this followed suit. 1967 suddenly brought about major artistic changes in the visual marketing of many musicians, as demonstrated by the covers to The Beatles’ “Sargent Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, The Rolling Stones’ “Their Satanic Majesties Request”, and Cream’s “Disraeli Gears”, among many others. Many of these covers were about the music, and didn’t even contain a photograph of the performers. Do to changes in both popular music styles as well as marketing ideas, the visual concepts that this exhibition focuses on, ended quite abruptly in the mid 1980’s.

The exhibition, “Album Cover Art: A Window On World Cultures and Art History” contains 100 framed album covers along with 60 framed information panels. The display is divided into three sections. There is an introductory section entitled, “The Golden Age of Album Cover Art.” The second section entitled, “A Window On World Cultures” is further subdivided into sections containing European influences, African and Asian influences, and influences from the Americas. The third section, which is the largest, is entitled, “A Window On Art History.”

“Album Cover Art: A Window On World Cultures and Art History” is on display through Thursday, September 26, 2019. The exhibition will also be open on the morning of Friday, September 27, 2019, until the conclusion of Henry Ford College’s annual high school “Discover Day” events. In conjunction with the Henry Ford College radio station WHFR, the Sisson Gallery will be hosting performances by several local acts during the course of the exhibition, including the following:

Mike Ward (Americana) – Wednesday, September 4, 3:45 p.m.
The Zotz (Punk) – Wednesday, September 11, 4:30 p.m.
Chosen By Fate (Progressive Rock) – Friday, September 13, 8 p.m.
Harmonica Shah and Howard Glazer (Blues) – Tuesday, September 17, 3:30 p.m.
Joe Jaber (Americana) – Wednesday, September 18, 3:30 p.m.

The Sisson Gallery is open Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (If by chance the gallery is closed during these times, please be patient and ask the person in the Fine Arts office to locate Steve Glazer.) This exhibition, and its related events, are free and open to the public. Please be advised that some of the imagery, even though all are mass marketed pieces, have been considered controversial by some.

For more information, please contact Steve Glazer, Director of Exhibitions, at 313-845-6485 or sglazer@hfcc.edu.