synthpop art: gentlemen take polaroids

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Before Depeche Mode’s fruitful partnership with Dutch artist and filmmaker Anton Corbijn, the Mute Records band’s visual identity was partly shaped by photographer Brian Griffin who shot the series of high-concept images which adorn five album releases spanning 1981-1986.

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The influence Russian social realist art is strikingly seen in Griffin’s work for Depeche, though apparently the picture taken for A Broken Frame was inspired by German romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich.

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For 1983’s Construction Time Again the photographer again references the socialist figure of the worker; this time via the political statement of construction worker-wielding-sledgehammer in a otherwise pristine Alpine location.

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Some Great Reward’s industrial backdrop ties in nicely with the album’s love-hate themes and sonic embrace of harsh found-sound as showcased on tracks like People are People, Master and Servant and Blasphemous Rumours.

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1986’s transitional Black Celebration followed in the wake of songwriter Martin L Gore’s relocation to Berlin. Depeche Mode’s darkest album to date drew heavily on the technological innovation of Alan Wilder, Daniel Miller and Gareth Jones, and was suitably cloaked inside shadowy Blade Runner-esque imagery.

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Filed under sound, vision, words

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