Total Records

Total Records

Fotomuseum Winterthur

Jost Wildbolz (Peter Fischli & David Weiss), Liliput, Liliput, 1982. © Rough Trade.

February 27, 2016
Total Records
Vinyl & Photography
February 27–May 16, 2016
Fotomuseum Winterthur
Grüzenstrasse 44 + 45
CH-8400 Winterthur
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 11am–6pm,
Wednesday 11am–8pm

Vinyl records and analogue photography have become emblematic media of the 20th century. The nostalgic value of a record is as much indebted to the cover image as the actual musical recording. A look into the history of records and photography reveals their complex interrelationship, which can be traced by a retrospective look at the sleeves of the most prevalent and commercially successful audio format of the past century. Presenting some 500 album covers, Total Records chronicles the multi-faceted interplay between these two media from the 1960s to the 2000s—taking us both on a journey through a cultural and media history of the 20th century, as well as through our highly intimate worlds of memory that we link to the images and the music.

Abbey Road and the four Beatles on the crosswalk, Grace Jones photographed by Jean-Paul Goude and stylized as sculptural icon, or the One Dollar Baby swimming underwater on Nirvana’s album Nevermind: iconic images like these are deeply inscribed in our collective memory, although we know few details about the photographer or designer of the image. Musicians have selected photographs by Dorothea Lange, Weegee, Elliott Erwitt, or Nan Goldin to illustrate their recordings. At the same time, music labels and musicians also commissioned images and strategically founded their market identity on visual design. Intelligently fusing imagery and genre, the covers of the jazz label Blue Note Records, which was established in 1939 by producer Alfred Lion and photographer Francis Wolff, have become stylistic landmarks in the history of album design.

The history of photography as told by Total Records, revolving around the commercial record sleeve and encompassing recording artists, photographers, designers, and labels, includes the encounter of many prominent figures such as Anton Corbijn with U2, Robert Frank or David Bailey with the Rolling Stones, Annie Leibovitz with John Lennon, Jean-Baptiste Mondino with Prince, Madonna, or Stephan Eicher. Spanning six decades, the portraits of Richard Avedon are found on some 120 album covers. Lee Friedlander began his photographic career with portraits of John Coltrane and Ray Charles, and he created a highly unusual series of colour photographs of jazz musicians for the label Atlantic Records, which he himself co-founded. As an experimental domain for photographic techniques and artistic movements, vinyl also bears the traces of artists such as Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Dieter Roth, Pipilotti Rist, or Fischli/Weiss.

The exhibition Total Records premiered during the Les Rencontres de la photographie d’Arles 2015 and was curated by Sam Stourdzé, Antoine de Beaupré, and Serge Vincendet. The presentation at Fotomuseum has been expanded to include Swiss photographers, musicians, and labels. The exhibition is accompanied by a music program including lectures and discussions.


Related program
Turntable/Talks: Veit Stauffer on REC REC

March 12
Veit Stauffer is a founding member of the Swiss label REC REC.

Turntable/Talks: Sam Mumenthaler on Layola Records
April 2
Layola Records was one of the hubs of Swiss beat music. 

Turntable/Talks: Edo Bertoglio shows Downtown 81
April 23
Jean-Michel Basquiat is the main protagonist of Downtown 81

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Fotomuseum Winterthur
February 27, 2016

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