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Author Topic: Storm Thorgerson, 69, Designer of Unsettling Album Covers, Dies  (Read 3781 times)


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Storm Thorgerson, 69, Designer of Unsettling Album Covers, Dies
Published: April 20, 2013

Storm Thorgerson, a British graphic designer whose comic, disturbing, semi-surreal images for the covers of albums helped illustrate the era of psychedelic rock, died on Thursday. He was 69.

His death was announced on the Web site of Pink Floyd, the band with which he was most closely associated. In a statement there, his family said he died of cancer but did not say where he died.

Over a 40-year career, Mr. Thorgerson, working with partners in two different companies, designed LP covers, and later CD covers, for bands including Led Zeppelin, Genesis, the Cranberries, Styx and Phish, helping to push album design away from simply featuring pictures of the artists.

It was Pink Floyd, a band whose eerie, electric operatics and portentous anthems made them emblematic of a progressive, otherworldly strain of rock, with whom Mr. Thorgerson melded most successfully, his images complementing their music and vice versa. Evidently influenced by Magritte, Dalí and Man Ray, he worked mostly with photographs, creating harsh collages, weird juxtapositions, infinite mirrors and reality-defying urbanscapes, images that often required elaborate constructions.

For “A Momentary Lapse of Reason” (1987), he hauled 700 iron hospital beds to the beach and arranged them in rows stretching out to the horizon. For “Wish You Were Here” (1975), he depicted a handshake between two well-dressed men, one of whom is on fire.

He was capable of grand jokes. For “Animals” (1977), he photographed an enormous inflatable pig floating between the smokestacks of a power plant. (The pig reportedly slipped away and entered the potential flight paths of aircraft approaching Heathrow Airport.) The cover of “Atom Heart Mother” (1970) was simply a cow standing in a field, looking over its shoulder, dumbly, back at the camera.

What was perhaps his best-known image was something of an anomaly. For the 1973 Pink Floyd album “The Dark Side of the Moon,” prompted by a request from a band member for something “graphic, cool and deliberate,” he created the suggestion of a triangular prism against a black background, an image of brilliant light refraction that became a symbolic reference to the band.

“It always seemed funny in a way to represent music by choosing to taking a picture of four chaps,” Mr. Torgerson said when asked about his approach to design in an interview with the BBC in 2007. “You’ve got music which might be about all sorts of things, from love lost and love won to politics to school days, from sport to perverse obsessions, etc., etc. Why would you have four chaps on the front? What does that say about the music?”

Storm Elvin Thorgerson was born on Feb. 28, 1944, in Potters Bar, north of London, and grew up mostly in Cambridge, where he and three of the original members of Pink Floyd — Syd Barrett, Roger Waters and David Gilmour — knew one another as teenagers. He attended Leicester University and the Royal College of Art in London. He was sharing an apartment with a friend, Aubrey Powell, when Mr. Powell was asked to design the jacket for Pink Floyd’s second album, “A Saucerful of Secrets” (1968). When Mr. Powell declined, Mr. Thorgerson volunteered, though he later said he had no idea what he was getting into or what was required. He created a swirl of images suggesting a solar system of planets tumbling out of a galaxy above the earth.

He and Mr. Powell eventually formed a design company, Hipgnosis, which lasted until 1983. A subsequent company, Stormstudios, produced music videos, concert films and documentaries as well as album designs.

Mr. Thorgerson is survived by his mother, Vanji; his wife, Barbie Antonis; a son, Bill; and two stepchildren, Adam and Georgia.

Tributes to Mr. Thorgerson, before and after his death, rarely failed to mention that he could be difficult to work with, a description he himself had no quarrel with.

“Scourge of management, record companies and album sleeve printers; champion of bands, music, great ideas and high, sometimes infuriatingly high, standards,” Pink Floyd’s drummer, Nick Mason, wrote about Mr. Thorgerson on the band’s Web site on Friday, adding: “Endlessly intellectual and questioning. Breathtakingly late for appointments and meetings, but once there invaluable for his ideas, humor and friendship.”

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Re: Storm Thorgerson, 69, Designer of Unsettling Album Covers, Dies
« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2013, 2334 UTC »
RIP Storm.

Wish You Were Here is one of the greatest album covers of all time.  Dark Side of The Moon is iconic.

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