IMAGES FOR SOUNDS: Artist Covers for Music Records

IMAGES FOR SOUNDS: Artist Covers for Music Records

Villa Lontana

April 21, 2022
IMAGES FOR SOUNDS: Artist Covers for Music Records
February 23–April 30, 2022
Villa Lontana
Via Cassia, 53,
00191 Rome

IMAGES FOR SOUNDS: Artist Covers for Music Records is the first exhibition at Villa Lontana to explore the medium of the music record, and above all of the album cover, as a potential artistic space open to the development of a visual language. The show unites more than 140 albums released since the 1950s together with artists’ covers conceived for the express purpose of giving images to sounds. The exhibition reflects on the collaboration between visual artists and musicians, playing on the duality between visual and sound material. In doing so, it focuses not on records made by artists but on artists’ covers for a variety of musical projects, which range from the odd casual collaboration to broad solutions for entire discographic series.

The main part of the exhibition draws from the extensive record collection of the musicologist, art historian and collector Giuseppe Garrera, featuring more than 100 records and artists’ covers designed by Irma Blank, Francesco Clemente, Luigi Ghirri, Keith Haring, Sol LeWitt, Bruno Munari, Magdalo Mussio, Giulio Paolini, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Cloti Ricciardi, Mario Schifano, Edith Schloss, Cy Twombly and Luigi Veronesi. This section of the exhibition traces a history of artists’ covers within Italian music publishing from the 50s to the 90s, attempting to provide an initial survey of the subject in the absence of any major discographic collections or bibliographic studies, and emphasizing the visual-musical relation or experience of the album object. The selection moves from Bruno Munari’s cover designs for Ricordi and La Voce del Padrone to Luigi Ghirri’s series of covers for RCA Seal Gold, passing through various one-off projects, each linked to a distinct expressive urgency: such as Michelangelo Pistoletto’s mirrored surface creation for Enrico Rava, Giulio Paolini’s rotating spiral design for a Giorgio Gaslini record, or Cy Twombly’s emotional seismograph for the songs of his friend Lucio Amelio…not to mention the work of Mario Schifano, Irma Blank, Sol LeWitt, Edith Schloss and so on.

The exhibition IMAGES FOR SOUNDS: Artist Covers for Music Records features collaborations born from a passion for and study of musicology, as well as from encounters with sound pieces that also possess visual qualities. Here the album, with all of its aural pleasure and delight in the reproducibility of invisible sound, assumes a double, image-sound identity: it belongs to listening and at the same time becomes part of a visual journey.

Two themed sections are presented throughout the course of the exhibition. The first is an homage to the late Sylvano Bussotti, featuring a selection of his most radical and brilliant covers for his own sheet music. These too derive from Giuseppe Garrera’s collection, with many of them exhibited in public for the first time. The other section is dedicated to more international and often more contemporary collaborations, including artists’ covers by Rita Ackermann, Josef Albers, Kai Althoff, Andreco, Tauba Auerbach, David Kennedy Cutler, Nathalie Du Pasquier, Matteo Fato, Reverend Howard Finster, Urs Fischer, Piero Golia, Delia Gonzalez, Mike Kelley, Emma Kohlmann, Barbara Kruger, Emiliano Maggi, Lucy McKenzie, Birgit Megerle, Luigi Ontani, Raymond Pettibon, Cinzia Ruggeri, Lorenzo Scotto di Luzio, Cindy Sherman, Michael Snow, Wolfgang Tillmans, Nico Vascellari, Andro Wekua, Christopher Wool. This latter section is in continuous evolution for the duration of the exhibition, with a regular rotation of different records borrowed from the collections and archives of the artists themselves or from the records’ respective labels. The musical contents of the exhibited records provide the soundtrack to the exhibition— it too in continuous evolution and chosen by the viewers, who are able, upon request, to listen to the music and so explore in space the visual translation of sounds into images, moving from the great masterpieces of classical music, to folk songs, to the experimental sounds of electronic music and techno tracks.

Curated by Vittoria Bonifati.

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Villa Lontana
April 21, 2022

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