Alex Steinweiss: the story of the world’s first record sleeve artist





At the age of 55 Steinweiss reluctantly decided to “bow out” of the record business, he continued to do package and graphic designs until moving to Sarasotta, Florida, where he began painting and poster making for, among other things, the local symphony orchestra.

Steinweiss launched a new field and practiced in it for well over twenty years. During his heyday, few designers were as focused on a specific discipline, or as influential. His covers visualized music in the same way that decades later music videos added a completely new dimension. Although he eventually left the field, his contribution is no less significant to the marketing and the history of American popular culture. He passed away in 2011, aged 94, in Sarasota, Fla.

Steven Heller’s top 10 Alex Steinweiss covers:


1940 -La Conga- Desi Arnaz and his La Conga Orchestra [Columbia Records catalogue no. C-12]signed Steinweiss


1941 -Rhapsody in Blue- [Columbia Records catalogue no. X-196] signed Steinweiss


1940 -Barber Shop Melodies by The Flat Foot Four-[Columbia Records catalogue no. C-35] signed Steinweiss


1940 Dvorák -New World Symphony- [Columbia Masterworks catalogue no. ML 4023] signed Steinweiss


1942 Beethoven -Emperor - Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-Flat- [Columbia Masterworks catalogue no. M-500] signed Steinweiss (1)
1940 At the Piano…Frankie Carle [Columbia Records catalogue no. C-23] signed Steinweiss


1942 Cesar Franck -Symphony in D Minor- [Columbia Masterworks catalogue no. M-479] signed Steinweiss


1942 Enesco -Roumanian Rhapsody No. 1- [Columbia Masterworks catalogue no. MX-203] signed Steinweiss


1942 Frankie Carle and his Girl Friends [Columbia Records catalogue no. C-97] signed Steinweiss


1942 Jerome Kern -Mark Twain- [Columbia Records catalogue no. X-227] signed Steinweiss