Columbiia Masterworks after Steinweiss: Monogram


Storm Thorgerson, one of the great cover designers of all time, maintains in his book Great Record Covers of the 60s that Classical record covers are boring. Often true, many classical covers picture the recording artist (or conductor) or a bust of the composer, or a reproduction of some 2nd rate painting.

Nevertheless, we have seen Steinweiss’ covers, RCA 78 rpm covers, Connelly’s covers. Some great stuff. Now I bring it up to the 1970s for my collection of Columbia Masterworks. I am not a completist, I just collect covers I like for this stuff.

First up is Monogram studio. The Connellys (Darrill and Elaine) tell me that Monogram was a studio in New York in the early 1950s and not a single designer. These covers are signed somebody/monogram. Who the somebody is varies. Meyers comes up a lot. I would love to know more about any of them. Some great designs, no single style.

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6 Responses to Columbiia Masterworks after Steinweiss: Monogram

  1. Rockdoc999 says:

    Fascinating! I had thought the ‘Carnaval’ cover was by Steinweiss – the ‘op 9′ text being in Steinweiss Scrawl. You live and learn.
    I wonder how much Storm Thorgerson knew about Steinweiss during Hipgnosis’ heyday in the 70s and 80s. Probably nothing. Nick de Ville (also a cover designer) shows several Steinweiss covers in his 2003 book ‘Album – style & Image in Sleeve Design’. That, for me at leat, was the earliest I had heard of him.

    • recordcovers says:

      I agree, a bunch of the monogram covers look remarkably like Steinweiss, to the point that I thought Steinweiss was associated with them. I don’t think so now, I just think Steinweiss set the language of cover design for lots of other people, like Curt John Witt who I will get to eventually.

      I agree that Thorgerson probably had never heard of anyone from before 1965. Nevertheless, an occasional good image from the golden age appears in one of his books.

      the very earliest book on cover design that I have, Walter Herdeg, Record Covers, Graphis, 1974 has some Steinweiss by name. I didn’t find this book until I had already collected Steinweiss for quite a few years.

      thanks for writing,

      Ken

    • recordcovers says:

      Hi Rockdoc, thanks for writing. I tried to reply once but it does not seem to have worked. I agree with you about Thorgerson – he shows some Steinweiss covers, but does not know what they are. The earliest book to mention Steinweiss by name that I have seen is Herdeg, Walter, Record Covers, Graphis, 1974. A great book.

  2. I’ve been trying to do some research about Monogram as well, and so far have come up empty on any information about Myers.

    Lots of great designers worked with Monogram, though, including Rudolph de Harak. de Harak is one of the cornerstones of West Coast Modern design, and along with Alvin Lustig, Saul Bass, and Lou Danziger, he formed the Los Angeles Society for Contemporary Designers. He was influenced early on by Gyorgy Kepes, and went on to teach design at many of the top schools of the era in addition to practicing design.

    If you find out anything more about the other Monogram designers, including Myers, I’d be very interested to hear.

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