“Squaring the Circle (The Story of Hipgnosis)” released

Friday, July 14, 2023

Related film

Squaring the Circle (The Story of Hipgnosis)

2022 • For Various Artists • Directed by Anton Corbijn

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From nme.com, June 29, 2023:

Paul McCartney, Noel Gallagher, and members of Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and more are set to appear in legendary photographer and director Anton Corbijn’s first feature-length film Squaring The Circle: The Story Of Hipgnosis – in cinemas and on demand from July 14. Check out the trailer below.


From Hipgnosis: the rock stars of album cover design (telegraph.co.uk), July 13, 2023:

“Paul McCartney had an idea. For the cover art of his next album, 1978 compilation Wings Greatest, he was keen to use a statue of Semiramis, Queen of Babylon, that he’d spotted at Christie’s. But he wanted the chryselephantine piece, by Art Deco sculptor Demétre Chiparus, to be photographed “somewhere really special”. Specifically: Everest.

When he realised that might be impractical, McCartney lowered his expectations. The Swiss Alps would do. “So we took a helicopter up, which could only land on the edge,” remembers Aubrey “Po” Powell in Squaring the Circle, a new documentary about Hipgnosis, the legendary graphic design company he co-founded in 1967 alongside Storm Thorgerson.

“We had to jump off,” the designer continues in the film, “tak[ing] this 70lb statue. And there I am, stuck on an area about the size of an average person’s sitting room, with a 10,000 foot drop all around me… And I completely have a phobia about heights.” Still, Powell, true to reputation, was nothing if not rigorous. “I was stuck up there for about six hours.”

Back on terra firma, McCartney pronounced himself pleased with the image that adorned the cover of his first post-Beatles compilation. “We loved it, it looked great,” he says in the film, directed by Anton Corbijn and including contributions from a roll-call of Seventies titans, from McCartney to Jimmy Page and Dave Gilmour. “But then someone said: ‘Well, you could have just gone in a studio, in London, got a big pile of salt and stuck the statue on top of it.’ But, you know,” the musician laughs, “that’s just too easy!” And as he points out, this was the late Seventies and “there was a lot of that in those days” – “that” being visionary ambition, indulgence and folly. […] Regardless of the reintroduction of vinyl, it’ll never be the same.”

It certainly won’t. This was a time when Paul McCartney could use an image of a lobster being walked on a lead along the pavement and it made, well, some sort of sense. “It’s one of mine?” he says, initially struggling to remember the Hipgnosis sleeve of 1979 Wings single Getting Closer. “Hmmm… Well, now, ha ha! I think I’ll have to talk to someone about that…. Wait a minute… Lobster, yeah, OK, it’s coming back now…” “

Last updated on July 21, 2023


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