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Celebrating the Life

September 24, 2013 - 11:57am

What: “On the Shoulders of Giants: Art, Music and the LP,” an exhibit of album covers from UT’s Historic Music Recordings Collection. This event is free and open to the public. 

When: Exhibit runs through December 2013
Where: The Richard T. and Jan J. Roberts Reading Room, Fine Arts Library (DFA 3.200), University of Texas at Austin
Background: A new exhibit at the Fine Arts Library, “On the Shoulders of Giants: Art, Music and the LP” showcases album covers culled from the Historic Music Recordings Collection that highlight the interplay between high and low art, popular music and visual culture.
The exhibition of 28 album covers is arranged in four cases by theme: covers that use the musicians’ own art, covers designed by artists, covers that appropriate existing art works and covers that parody or adapt art works.
Until the emergence of pop music in the 1950s and 1960s, the relationship between art and music existed primarily in the space between high art and art music. Pop ushered in an era of creative exploration in which high and low intermingled, and where authority was continually called into question.
Album cover art flourished during and beyond the period, and would become shorthand for everything from the assertion of artistic integrity, to the distortions of psychedelic drugs and the reversal of old hierarchies. Simultaneously, sound recordings became a major commercial industry, and record labels eager to develop their audience engaged celebrated artists and photographers to design their covers.
Included in the exhibit are Bob Dylan’s Self Portrait (1970), which mystified his critics, but expressed a wish to assert control over his image, and distance himself from the countercultural movement with which he had come to be associated; a series of covers designed by R. Crumb feature some of the divisive racial and female stereotypes for which the cartoonist is well known; Cyndi Lauper’s She’s So Unusual (1983) — shot by star photographer Annie Leibovitz and in which Van Gogh’s Starry Night appears on the soles of Lauper’s high heels; and the Pogues’ Rum Sodomy & the Lash (1985), which seized upon Gericault’s Raft of the Medusa.
Also featured in the exhibit are albums by current local music and visual artists Tim Kerr (the prototype for a very limited edition of hand-painted covers to Up Around the Sun, his new album with Jerry Hagins), Sam Beam (aka Iron & Wine, The Shepherd's Dog) and Bangaar (cover art by Mike Combs, Exuro) that includes the FAL's own Adam R. Hatley on drums. Former Austin band And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead member Conrad Keely's finely detailed drawings are shown from The Century of Self.

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