Cover Me

"The grooviest record store of all time": ‘‘The LP Show’’ installation at Exit Art
photo: Robin Holland
"The grooviest record store of all time": ‘‘The LP Show’’ installation at Exit Art

LP covers form an important part of our visual literacy, incorporating an encyclopedic range of genres and styles. Suffice it to say, they are a hybrid form of the first order, sites of stylistic compression and originality. It's possible you, like me, have spent more time looking at some covers—alone, up close, and with rapt attention—than you've spent looking at most works of art. This doesn't mean you're a philistine. It's just that if you're lucky—really lucky—in a lifetime, you might get to have three or four hours in the Sistine Chapel, or in Giotto's Arena Chapel, the church containing Piero della Francesca's Legend of the True Cross, or standing before Grunewald's Isenheim Altarpiecein Colmar. You will probably never get an unobstructed look at the Mona Lisa or Botticelli's Birth of Venusever again. Crowds make these works all but inaccessible to us. Album covers aren't great works of art, but once upon a time they taught us how much rapture there was to be had in the simple act of looking at a static image for hours.

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