Home Music Anton Corbijn tells us about his first documentary ‘Squaring The Circle’ and the facility of rock’n’roll artwork studio Hipgnosis

Anton Corbijn tells us about his first documentary ‘Squaring The Circle’ and the facility of rock’n’roll artwork studio Hipgnosis

Anton Corbijn tells us about his first documentary ‘Squaring The Circle’ and the facility of rock’n’roll artwork studio Hipgnosis


Legendary photographer and filmmaker Anton Corbijn has spoken to NME about his new documentary Squaring The Circle, which focuses on Hipgnosis, the artwork studio behind iconic album sleeves from Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Wings, and extra.

From their psychedelic debut album paintings for Pink Floyd’s ‘A Saucerful Of Secrets and techniques’ in 1968 to their dissolution in 1983, Hipgnosis – which consisted primarily of Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey ‘Po’ Powell – created a number of the most hanging cowl pictures in rock’n’roll historical past.

Now, the corporate behind Pink Floyd’s well-known ‘The Darkish Facet Of The Moon’, ‘Want You Have been Right here’ and ‘Animals’ covers, in addition to equally memorable pictures for Led Zeppelin, Wings, 10cc, Peter Gabriel and plenty of others, is the topic of the brand new, feature-length documentary. The movie contains interviews with Paul McCartney, Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel, and different key gamers and is ready for a cinematic launch on Friday (July 14).

NME spoke to Corbijn concerning the new documentary, the facility of Hipgnosis and their turbulent journey from down-at-heels hippies to rock artwork heroes.

Po, Storm and Peter
Po, Storm and Peter CREDIT: Hipgnosis

Why did you need to make a documentary about Hipgnosis?

“Po got here to Amsterdam and requested me to be the person making the documentary about Hipgnosis. I used to be very reluctant initially, however once I met him, he’s such an important storyteller. I believed, effectively, we’ve this one who might inform tales firsthand with all these document sleeves which can be nice. Confidently, we might get the artists to take part and all of the elements for the documentary are there. I’ve by no means made a documentary earlier than. I wasn’t actually positive what was wanted from me, however I discovered.”

Was their work significantly necessary to your life?

“In as a lot as I believed document sleeves had been necessary in my life. Once I grew up, that was a serious factor, particularly if you happen to’re an aspiring photographer. That’s the place I noticed my footage ending, document sleeves, or magazines. I didn’t consider gallery reveals at the moment. Magazines, document sleeves, I had a deal with that and I used to be undoubtedly conscious of the Hipgnosis sleeves, and inside that world, it was essential.”

You’ve stated that it was the cow on the entrance of Pink Floyd’s ‘Atom Coronary heart Mom’ was the primary Hipgnosis picture that grabbed you…

“The audacity of simply having a cow on the duvet, and I appreciated the album. I haven’t performed it for ages, however on the time, I liked it. The reminiscence of the document, visually, is related to the audio, these went hand in hand for me.”

Did that kind of picture open your eyes to the probabilities of what cowl artwork might do?

“I used to be very naive in my method to those issues on the time. I used to be younger, so I don’t suppose it did. I used to be at all times considering nonetheless of photographing the artist. I used to be extra of the punk perspective. I don’t have any diplomas or something, however I’m simply doing it. That they had a punk perspective to them, too, by simply going for it. However I feel the individuals they photographed for had been from a distinct period…I’m post-punk, they’re pre-punk.”

Once you take a look at your work with Depeche Mode and U2, there’s the same sense of scale.

“Nevertheless it’s simple. I don’t put all types of objects within the shot, like Hipgnosis did with all of the desert photographs or the beds on the seaside [for Pink Floyd’s 1987 album ‘A Momentary Lapse Of Reason’], which I don’t like an excessive amount of, so I didn’t function them…To me, that’s simply photographing an concept, and it doesn’t go additional than that. You have to be so cautious as a result of an concept can sound nice on paper, however the way you shoot it’s simply as necessary as the concept itself.”

Pink Floyd Atom Heart Mother
Pink Floyd’s ‘Atom Coronary heart Mom’ paintings CREDIT: Hipgnosis

However when Hipgnosis put one thing seemingly unimaginable on an album sleeve, usually photographed for actual, it virtually magnified the mysticism of the music inside.

“I appreciated that factor as a result of I feel it’s too straightforward to do every little thing on a pc. However some concepts are inferior to they could sound, and if you happen to simply go for scale, that doesn’t at all times imply it’s good.”

They may additionally throw concepts on the wall and have them accepted as genius. Sure’ ‘Tormato’ album, for example, featured a photograph of a person with divining sticks obscured by a tomato that the band, or Hipgnosis (relying on who you consider), threw on the paintings when the band rejected it.

“I fairly like that, it’s three dimensional, it’s fairly good. However I like [Led Zeppelin’s] ‘Presence’ lots, too, as a result of the concept of the thing [a black monolith placed into various everyday 1950s and ‘60s stock photos] is incredible. That’s so good. I stated to Po, I feel you may simply have had the thing itself on the duvet, and it will have been incredible. There’s a power to it.”

Which different covers fascinated you?

“Peter Gabriel ones, and [Pink Floyd’s] ‘Want You Have been Right here’. The story for ‘Want You Have been Right here’ [featuring a stuntman on fire] was actually good. However then, for me, to wrap up the album sleeve in black, that’s a bit too far, however okay, you have to be so into your personal factor to try this. It’s fairly demanding of the viewers. I like the concept that you’re going to see one thing you don’t count on to see. With Depeche, we as soon as did a 12” sleeve for ‘World In My Eyes’, which was very bluish after which we put it into blue plastic. So you may see the imagery, however as a result of it was blue-on-blue, it was completely different whenever you took it out. I believed that was fairly good.”

What did you study Storm and Po making the movie?

“The truth that they had been at loggerheads over so many issues, and on the identical time, there’s this story of affection and loss within the movie. It’s fairly unhappy on the finish when he realised that he’d misplaced what he’d labored on, the connection with Storm, and it was all about cash, it was insane.

“I’d have liked to satisfy Storm. A extremely troublesome man however very gifted. I don’t suppose he might assist himself. He wished to be troublesome. Nick Mason sums it up by saying, ‘he was a man who wouldn’t take sure for a solution’, he would at all times be argumentative, and that’s tiring, I’m positive. However he did provide you with the concepts.”

Did you get any indication of the place these wild concepts got here from?

“I don’t know if it’s as a result of they took LSD journeys, and for him, it had a optimistic impact in that sense, it opened the field. It was very arduous to evaluate that with out asking him.”

You made the movie in lockdown – what difficulties did that impose?

“Contemplating a lot of the musicians had been between 75 and 80, they had been fearful. Both they wouldn’t go away their dwelling, or they wouldn’t allow you to come into their dwelling. So it was shot over a protracted time frame. I attempted to have the lighting the identical in every single place so it didn’t really feel that it was completely different.”

The Nice Elegy
The Good’s ‘Elegy’ paintings CREDIT: Hipgnosis

Was taking pictures it in black and white with a view to convey out the vibrancy of the artwork?

“It grew to become that concept. It began off in color after which I realised that the standard of all of the archival footage was probably not how I’d have appreciated to have shot it as a result of you haven’t any management over that. A approach to make use of it effectively could be to convey every little thing as a uniform look and that was in black and white. After which make the album sleeves the spotlight of your day whenever you take a look at these. That labored actually, rather well.”

Have you ever now bought the documentary bug?

“No. I’m undecided if I’m curious sufficient typically and that I’m perhaps extra of an observer than a participant.”

What’s the following undertaking you’ve bought developing?

“I’m engaged on a sleeve for The Killers after which I’m doing a movie a bit about [The Talented Mr Ripley author] Patricia Highsmith’s final yr, with Helen Mirren enjoying her. We’re casting for the time being after which hope to shoot it within the autumn in Switzerland – it’s referred to as Switzerland as a result of that’s the place she lived on the finish of her life. It’s fictional, although. She did stay in Switzerland, so we preserve that factor, however the remaining is all fiction. It’s mainly a Ripley story.”

Once they make your documentary, who ought to direct it?

“I hope no one does that. I do not know. Perhaps an actor ought to do it – all my pictures pals are fairly previous. I’d belief Willem Defoe.”



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here