Squaring the Circle (The Story of Hipgnosis)
“Vinyl is the poor man’s art collection,” Noel Gallagher quotes, and speculates whether it was him who was credited with those words in the first place. Regardless of origin, this sentiment perfectly sums up the significance of the artwork that would go hand in hand with new releases, when purchasing music was a physical and multi-sensory experience.
In his latest documentary, Dutch filmmaker Anton Corbijn (no stranger to album cover design or music videos himself), applies himself to the art form and the collective responsible for some of the most iconic illustrations to ever grace the cover of records (the prism breaking light into colour has practically become synonymous with the band name, and Wish You Were Here’s endless references most recently included a “Barbenheimer” fan montage).
Squaring the Circle chronicles the formation of the group: the natural progression of emerging visual artists Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey “Po” Powell’s close ties to fellow Cantabrigians Pink Floyd, and the success of their uncompromisingly offbeat approach, which later led to commissions by the likes of Led Zeppelin and Paul McCartney.
The style of the documentary largely consists of interview footage with surviving members of Hipgnosis and their companions, kept in sober black and white, as well as pertinent archival material. The only segments in colour are the images of the album covers itself, and paintings or photography their designs were inspired by. The interviews are reflective, free-flowing as well as amusing, as for instance, none of the speakers can agree who actually came up with the name, but they all loved the combination of the “hip” and the “gnostic”. Musicians and photographers share the stories behind the epic visuals, the arduous processes almost unimaginable in today’s age of digital composition.
After premiering in Telluride and screening at Sundance earlier this year, The Story of Hipgnosis finally comes to UK cinemas and should not be missed by anybody even remotely interested in music or cover art.
Squaring the Circle (The Story of Hipgnosis) is released in select cinemas on 14th July 2023.
Watch the trailer for Squaring the Circle (The Story of Hipgnosis) here: