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In March 1973 one of the most successful albums of all time was released: Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon. The artwork for the album became as famous and iconic as the musical content and was designed by Thorgerson who was then part of the graphic art group Hipgnosis.
Hipgnosis had designed seven rough concepts for Pink Floyd to choose from; they selected the simple and bold prism design immediately. The refracting glass prism was a reference to the light shows that the band used in their concerts. The prism’s triangular shape is a symbol of ambition and also echoes the shape of a pyramid- touching on themes in the lyrics of the album.
For the 40th anniversary Thorgerson has created a limited edition silkscreen print divided into a 7x7 grid of squares. Forty of these squares are variations of the original Dark Side image- displaying an incredible level of imagination, inventiveness and humour from the artist. The remaining squares are filled with individual letters spelling PINK FLOYD. The variations on the prism image reflect many different facets of Thorgerson’s work. Over his career the majority of his album cover artwork has been created using photography rather than computer graphics, painting or drawing. As Thorgerson explains it, ‘I like photography because it is a reality medium, unlike drawing which is unreal. I like to mess with reality…to bend reality. Some of my works beg the question of is it real or not?’ Here the majority of the images are photographic; picture of physical installations that Thorgerson has created using various media including flowers, food, wool, liquid on glass, beads, the human body, buttons, collage etc. Some of the images reference other works by the artist; the prism motif painted onto bodies is redolent of Thorgerson’s Back Catalogue works. Several of the images recreate the prism design in homage to great artists including Dali, Miro, Lichtenstein and Picasso.
Though The Dark Side of the Moon 40th Anniversary is complex and multi-layered, like the original 1973 image it also retains an elegant simplicity in its grid structure. This infinite variety on a single theme is fascinating to examine and is exacerbated by the textural detail also lavished on the piece. Each individual square in the grid has been given it’s own finish which vary from gloss or matt glazing, to embossing, gold leaf and diamond dust.