John Hermansader

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John Hermansader (1915–2005) was an American painter, graphic designer, and jazz fan. He is remembered for his iconic designs of Blue Note record covers.

Early years and education[change | change source]

John Bancroft Hermansader was born on November 1, 1915 near Reading, Pennsylvania. In the 1930s, he studied at the Memphis Academy of Art in Tennessee and the New Bauhaus in Chicago, Illinois. In New York City he studied with Robert Motherwell at the New School of Social Research.[1][2]

Jazz, Blue Note Records, Fine Art[change | change source]

In 1939, he and his wife Rosemary were founders of the Hot Club of Newark, New Jersey, a significant group of jazz enthusiasts. John became the first president.[3][4]

In 1951, when Blue Note Records began issuing 10 inch records, Hermansader was one of their first designers, along with Paul Bacon and Gil Melle.[5] Looking back at this era, Michael Cuscuna of Mosaic Records said, “ What John Hermansader and Paul Bacon really did was evoke the feeling of the music. They used everything from Bauhaus designs to things that were really otherworldly.” Angelynn Grant adds, “When people think of Blue Note covers they think of Frank Wolff”s photography and Reid Miles design. But John Hermansader laid the groundwork that got them going along that path.”[6] Richard Cook, who wrote Blue Note Records: The Biography states, “Hermansader in particular balanced the twin issues of photography and type in a way that would mirror the concerns of the Blue Note of the years ahead.”[7]

“John Hermansader was passionate about oil painting, “beautiful lyrical abstractions, full of color and movement.”5 He was an abstract expressionist painter who drew inspiration for his work from listening to jazz.”[8] His exhibitions included and the Gallery of Contemporary Art at Sunken Meadow, Long Island, 1951–58, Panoras Gallery 1956, Art USA 1958. His work is in the collection of Wake Forest (IL) College, and the Schwenkfelder Art Museum, PA, as well as private collections.[9]

Notable album covers[change | change source]

  • The Amazing Bud Powell, vol. 1 & 2: Blue Note 12” LP
  • Jazz Messengers: At the Café Bohemia, vol.1 & 2 Blue Note, 12” LP
  • Miles Davis, vol. 1 & 2: Blue Note, 12” LP
  • Horace Silver Quintet: Blue Note, 10” LP
  • Jay Jay Johnson, vol. 1 & 2: Blue Note, 12” LP

References[change | change source]

  1. Obituary, Pilot, Redding Conn., July 14, 2005, p. 32A
  2. Who Was Who in American Art , 1999 edition, p. 1540
  3. Who Was Who in American Art , 1999 edition, p. 1540
  4. Black Beauty, White Heat, A Pictorial History of Classic Jazz, 1920 -1950, by Frank Diggs and Harris Lewine, introduction by Paul Bacon, p. 8
  5. Blue Note, The Album Cover Art, edited by Graham Marsh, Felix Cromey, and Glynn Collingham, p. 6
  6. “The Art of Jazz”, Robert Miller, The News-Times, July 16, 2005, Vol. 122, No. 97, Danbury, Conn
  7. Blue Note Records, The Biography, Richard Cook, pp.87–88
  8. ?Obituary, Pilot, Redding Conn., July 14, 2005, p. 32A
  9. Who Was Who in American Art , 1999 edition, p. 1540

Other resources[change | change source]