The album cover as we know it dates to 1938, when Columbia Records art director Alex Steinweiss thought audiences might be more willing to buy records if there was a visual element to draw them in, rather than just the previously used plain-brown wrapper.
Since then, the square format has attracted the talents of Andy Warhol, Annie Leibovitz, R. Crumb, Richard Avedon, and Robert Mapplethorpe, to name a few.
That’s good news for audiophiles who also have bare walls. Album covers — as accessible as the basement vinyl stash or on eBay — make for appealing interior art. Prices on eBay range from less than $5 to more than $1,000. Just add frames.
Photos – copyright: courtesy of Alex Steinweiss