Olga Lehmann’s album covers
From 1953 to 1957, artist Olga Lehmann designed a fair few LP covers for the Argo label. I thought they deserved to be gathered together in one place – so below are the ones I’ve come across. There may be a couple missing.
(At the very bottom of the page there are watercolour sketches for five of the album covers that I was put onto by someone who happened across this post.)
There’s plenty of information around about the Chilean-born artist and her remarkable, broad-ranging career as a portrait artist, costume and set designer, illustrator, and painter of murals. If you’re interested in finding out more, there are some links at the bottom of the page.
Her work for Argo was a sideline, coming at a time when she was pretty flat out doing stuff for films. When she did her first LP cover for the label, she’d just finished doing the costume design and a set portrait for the Errol Flynn film The Master of Ballantrae (released in 1953). Here’s what else she was involved with in those Argo years.
Presumably because he was impressed by her work on The Master of Ballantrae, Flynn commissioned her in 1953 to paint a swashbuckling mural – Captain Bligh and all – for the entrance lobby of his Tichfield Hotel in Port Antonio, Jamaica.
And, I guess, (how far ahead of a film’s release does the storyboard get written/drawn?) she was already at work on the storyboard for 44-year-old Errol’s next film, the 1955 medaeval pot-boiler ‘The Dark Avenger’.
The following year’s work included the cover illustration for Mary Elwyn Patchett’s kids’ book ‘Evening Star’ and the costume design for the 1956 rampaging-Mau-Mau-and-elephants romp ‘Safari’, putting Vivien Leigh into some body-hugging, daytime jungle wear and something suitably elegant for night-time clinches with Victor Mature.
More storyboard work (and assistant art director) for the 1956 film Around the World in 80 Days, the credits sequence for ‘Safari’ and costume design for ‘The Big Money’ and ‘Gamma People’ (kitting out gamma-ray-fried goons, brainwashed commie kids and Leslie Phillips for the latter).
Lehmann did the set design and the costumes, and devised and designed the ‘house of cards’ dance sequence for the ‘rocking and rolling romance’ film Let’s be Happy – the lovely (and now ageing) Vera-Ellen’s last film – a box office flop. She also designed the costumes for the Australian pioneer days adventure film ‘Robbery under Arms’.
Work on two classics: The Adventures of Tom Thumb, for which Lehmann designed the costumes and the credit titles, and the Inn of the Sixth Happiness, for which she did the storyboard.
Click on the Tom Thumb poster for the credits sequence.
Throughout the 1953-57 period she was also doing illustrations for BBC publications like London Calling, Radio Times and the schools music programme Singing Together.
The connection with Argo became a family one in 1955, when Lehmann’s husband, writer and broadcaster Richard Carl Huson, joined the label as Director of Public Relations.
Another little footnote: it was Lehmann’s sister (then editor of Architectural Design Monica Pidgeon) who introduced Argo founder Harley Usill to would-be field recordist Deben Bhattacharya in 1953. A good move for both Argo and ‘world’ music.
Some interesting stuff from the British Film Institute. Click here.
A nice tribute page by Mandie Stone with a promise of a whole lot more. Here.
The Olga Lehmann Wikipedia page. Here.
THE OLGA LEHMANN ALBUM COVERS FOR ARGO
SOME WATERCOLOUR SKETCHES FOR THE ALBUM COVERS
||RG 21 – Under Milk Wood|
||RG 55 – Faure|
||RG 58 – Calypso|
RG 89 – Bartok
||TM 49 – Elgar|