New Interviews With PINK FLOYD, LED ZEPPELIN Members Featured In "Squaring The Circle: The Story Of Hipgnosis" Documentary On Iconic Album Art Design Studio
September 6, 2022, a year ago
When it comes to coffee-table books that survey the great album covers of the classic rock era, there are generally two kinds: those that include a lot of the work of the 1970s design team called Hipgnosis, and those that consist entirely of Hipgnosis’ work, reports Variety. Virtually any rock superstar who had the cachet to ask his record company to blow hundreds of thousands of dollars on a Hipgnosis cover went for the splurge of commissioning an original piece of art that might join classic LP jackets from Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin in a renaissance of 12’x12′ photographic surrealism. Only Hipgnosis could shoot a photo of a cow against a blue sky, put it on a Floyd cover (Atom Heart Mother), and make it look like an act of mysterious profundity on a level with the greatest works of Magritte.
Although Hipgnosis in its prime did some non-photographically based covers too (see Dark Side Of The Moon), the ones that required elaborate photo shoots often have some pretty good stories behind them. Raise your hand if you’ve already heard the one about the giant inflatable pig that flew off into the flight zone for Heathrow during the shoot for Pink Floyd’s Animals; now raise both hands if you want to hear it again. You get that, and some less-told tales, in Squaring The Circle: The Story Of Hipgnosis, a Telluride-premiering documentary directed by Anton Corbijn, a photographer and creative director who’s just about the only guy in the world as famous for his band design work in his day as the principals of Hipgnosis were back in theirs. As renowned as Corbijn is, you get the feeling making this movie for him might have presented not just an homage but an attempt to reconcile with his jealousy of his forebears — because by and large, nobody did it better.
The two main creatives of Hipgnosis were the late Storm Thorgerson, the eternally prickly visionary of the two, and - still around, and the key interview of the film - Aubrey “Po” Powell, the long-suffering partner who accomplished or oversaw the actual execution of Thorgerson’s insane ideas, often on location. They came up in the Cambridge art scene alongside the young members of Pink Floyd and did their first design for the band’s second album, Saucerful Of Secrets, an uncharacteristically psychedelic cover that soon gave way to much more interesting pieces. If you’re a Floyd fan, you may have spent much more time contemplating the aforementioned “Atom Heart” cover and its deep meaning than the band ever did, or Powell, who was literally out standing in his field after he spotted a cow by the side of the road that seemed to have an attitude. There may not have been much more to it than “Set the controls for the heart of Bessie,” but a template of marrying blue skies with natural objects or beings that took on nearly mystical value was born.
The three surviving members of Floyd all give fresh interviews, which is about as close as Roger Waters and David Gilmour will ever be to one another again. Throughout the film, there is more personal affection for Thorgerson’s brilliant imagination than for his apparent lifelong rudeness and brusqueness. So it’s funny and telling that the biggest defender of Thorgerson’s character and personality is Waters, a guy whose irascibility has rubbed a few people the wrong way over the years, too. But Thorgerson did the one thing Waters couldn’t forgive, which was take credit for the concept of the pig flying high over an industrial zone, something the Floyd singer-songwriter emphatically claims was his, and thus ended a beautifully cranky friendship.
Read more at Variety.com.
According to Pink Floyd news resource, Brain Damage, the film features brand new interviews with Roger Waters, David Gilmour & Nick Mason of Pink Floyd, as well as Jimmy Page & Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, Paul McCartney, Peter Gabriel, Graham Gouldman of 10cc, Noel Gallagher, and many more.