A Tribute to Alex Steinweiss, The Creator of the Album Cover, opens today at the Robert Berman Gallery in Santa Monica. In 1939, during the era of 78 rpm discs, Steinweiss revolutionized how record albums were sold by inventing the illustrated album jacket. At the time he worked for Columbia Records, a struggling label based in Bridgeport, CT. Previously albums were shelved in shops with only the spine lettering exposed. Steinweiss's vivacious color illustrations inspired record merchants to display the jackets face out, giving Columbia a retail edge over competing labels.
In 1942, while serving as Art Director for the label, Steinweiss hired an untested but promising young fine arts graduate from Cincinnati. Within a year, that talented pup—James Royer Flora—had succeeded Steinweiss as label AD.
Steinweiss, now 90, lives in Sarasota, and remains an active painter and designer.
The exhibit runs through Feb. 12.