Taken by Storm:
The Art of Storm Thorgerson

First Appeared in The Music Box, October 2004, Volume 11, #10

Written by Nina Naran


The Honorable Gerald Wesley, James Seviers, and John Martin (l-r)

Media Contemporary Arts and the John Martin Gallery are currently hosting the Storm Thorgerson art exhibition in London, and on September 21, a congregation of art collectors, celebrity guests, and members of the press were invited to celebrate its launch as well as to toast this revolutionary artist. During the evening, Thorgerson welcomed various band members with whom he has worked, including Norman Watt-Roy, Mickey Gallagher, and Derek THE Draw from The Blockheads; Nick Beggs and Austin Howard from Ellis, Beggs, and Howard; Joel Edwards from Deepest Blue; and Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason and Richard Wright.

Thorgerson — and yes, that is his real name — began his career as part of Hipgnosis before establishing himself in his own right. Creating visually beautiful and thought-provoking art, he is responsible for the iconic images associated with bands such as Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, The Cranberries, Black Sabbath, Peter Gabriel, and 10cc, amongst others. As a result, since the 1970s his work has become synonymous with identifying pop culture.

Richard Wright and Storm Thorgerson

The distinctive and edgy style of Thorgerson’s art has an element of "performance" to it. In essence, he visualizes his concept, creates the imaginative scene, and then captures it through the use of photography. In other words, his ‘temporary installation’ is caught on camera and then it is gone, leaving behind a photograph as the only evidence of its occurrence. It is these images that have graced album covers by the likes of Pink Floyd (Wish You Were Here, Dark Side of the Moon, Division Bell), The Cranberries (Bury the Hatchet), and Led Zeppelin (Houses of the Holy).

Thorgerson seems to take joy in engaging his audience and provoking a reaction — is it reality or is it fantasy? — and though many come to know his images before they know the artist, his work consistently strikes a chord in its viewers. In an age of digital technology, it is hard to believe that the metal heads featured on Division Bell were physically produced and not computer generated, or that the man in Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here was actually set alight.


Thorgerson has said, "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? I use real elements in unreal ways. Is the man really on fire? Why would he just be standing there? Who put the beds on the beach? Why? Why is there a cow on the cover? It doesn’t have anything to do with the album, or does it? A boxer dog in designer boxer shorts on a beach."

The exhibition is a retrospective of Thorgerson’s art, the beauty of which is realized with maximum impact due to the spaciousness of the gallery in which it is being shown. In addition to the limited edition signed prints, the original stain glass window with the Dark Side of the Moon image is also featured as are the spheres that were designed specifically for last year’s Pink Floyd-themed exhibition in Paris. In fact, this is Thorgerson’s first public appearance and showing of his work since suffering a stroke shortly after that event, and despite his ill health, he has continued to create interesting images. In essence, Thorgerson is a character who demands nothing but the best in his work and in those who work alongside him. The results speak for themselves.

Limited edition signed and numbered fine art prints, original sculpture, and one-of-a-kind artwork will be available at selected galleries as well as through Storm Thorgerson's web site.


Of Further Interest...

Fred Goodman - Mansion on the Hill (Book)

What Happened to the Post-War Dream?: Roger Waters in Concert, July 1999

Led Zeppelin - How the West Was Won


Mind over Matter: The Images of Pink Floyd is available
from Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!


Copyright © 2004 The Music Box