In Memorium: The Classic Album Cover Art of Storm Thorgerson

Pink Floyd - Dark Side Of The Moon

If you’ve listened to any music at all in the last forty years you’re no doubt familiar with the work of British graphic designer Storm Thorgerson, who passed away last week in England at the age of 69. A prolific designer, whether solo or in conjunction with his design firms Hipnosis and Stormstudios, Thorgerson has been responsible for the design of some 300 album and CD covers for groups as diverse as Led Zeppelin, The Cranberries, Phish, Anthrax, Muse and, of course, Pink Floyd. His most famous work, the cover for Pink Floyd’s 1972 classic Dark Side Of The Moon (above), has transcended art and music to become an iconic, instantly recognizable part of pop culture.

A graduate of London’s Royal College of Art, Thorgerson was a teenage friend of early Pink Floyd members Syd Barrett, Rogers Waters and David Gilmour. His collaboration with that band began in 1967 when he designed the cover for the group’s second album A Saucerful of Secrets, and has since extended over 45 years and 15 album covers. Indeed, his artwork is as synonymous with the Pink Floyd brand as the band’s eponymous sound, to the point where his images complement the music and vice versa. “The artworks that he created for Pink Floyd from 1968 to the present day have been an inseparable part of our work,” said guitarist Gilmour on the band’s website.

A surrealist at heart, Thorgerson was evidently influenced by classic surrealists like Man Ray, Magritte, Picasso, Dalí, Kandinsky and Juan Gris. He worked mostly with photographs, creating harsh collages, weird juxtapositions, infinite mirrors and reality-defying cityscapes, images that often required elaborate constructions, such as the giant inflatable flying pig in Pink Floyd’s Animals, or the bizarre lunarscape of Led Zeppelin’s Houses Of The Holy (below).

To quote Thorgerson, “I like photography because it is a reality medium, unlike drawing, which is unreal. I like to mess with reality … to bend reality. Some of my works beg the question of is it real or not?”

Science fiction author Douglas Adams (The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy) once called Thorgerson “the best album designer in the world,” but the passing of Storm Thorgerson is a major loss to the worlds of music and art as well as design. Here is but a small sample of the amazingly surrealist work of Storm Thorgerson.

Led Zeppelin - Houses Of The Holy (Spread)

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About Stephen Kelly Creative

Hi, I'm Stephen Kelly, a writer, editor, photographer and graphic designer living in beautiful San Francisco, CA, USA. Amongst the things I love are writing, photography, movies, music, fitness, travel, Batman, all things Australian, food and fun, all of which I hope to reflect in this here blog. Welcome aboard ... now let's get busy!
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19 Responses to In Memorium: The Classic Album Cover Art of Storm Thorgerson

  1. waynelaw says:

    Amazing talent before photoshop!

  2. What an amazing icon! 🙂

  3. Wow! I’ve seen some of these covers and never even knew that they were all by the same artist. Good for him, and good for you, featuring his work.

  4. A great tribute to a talented man. Thanks, Stephen.

  5. viveka says:

    I have some his art … in my CD unit … love the Cranberries … and One Revolution’s covers!!! Have Peter Gabriel too. Maybe I should make a montage of the covers he made and frame it.
    Thanks for this … giving me the man behind the art. 69 far too young.

  6. Paula says:

    A beautiful hommage Stephen.. his work will not be forgotten!

  7. ciao! your post honored him.
    thebestdressup

  8. Pingback: SALUTE TO BLOGGERS III | Francine In Retirement

  9. cyardin says:

    I like Viveka have quite a few of these album covers in my collection, but I never knew who the artist was. His artwork reflects the artist too, setting the visual tone for the audio experience to come. I wonder in this digital age of downloads whether the medium of album covers will disappear, which will be a loss.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hi Chris! Cheers, mate … and thanks for visiting. Personally, I think the medium of album cover art is already dead. You just don’t get the impact of how an awesome album cover can work to fit the mood of the music when you download an album or track. Most of the time, I don’t think people even care about the covers anymore. As a graphic designer and lover of music, I think that’s a damn shame!

      • Hi Chris! Cheers, mate … and thanks for visiting. Personally, I think the medium of album cover art is already dead. You just don’t get the impact of how an awesome album cover can work to fit the mood of the music when you download an album or track. Most of the time, I don’t think people even care about the covers anymore. As a graphic designer and lover of music, I think that’s a damn shame!

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