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Book Review: Views by Roger Dean, Carla Capalbo, and Donny Hamilton

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Roger Dean is an English artist, designer, architect, and publisher. His work is wide ranging, from his design of the Sea Urchin chair and the Retreat Pod chair, to his best known work stemming from the album cover designs that he began designing in the 1960s.

The most recognized album cover work is that of the English progressive rock band Yes. Dean first started creating Yes covers with the 1971 album Fragile. Along with the cover art he also developed their bubble logo, which appeared on the 1972 album Close to the Edge. He has also worked on video game art beginning in 1985, has done architectural pieces, and is currently working on a film project that will feature 3D renderings of his classic images, using music by Yes.

Views is a re-release of Dean's bestselling classic book from 1975. When first released, it went straight to number one on the Sunday Times bestseller list and would go on to sell over a million copies. This book surveys the first seven years of Dean's professional career. It is 160 full color pages and is divided into an introduction and five chapters.

Views begins with an introduction by Donald Lehmkuhl who, along with Carla Capalbo wrote the text to go along with Dean's images. Here he tries to put into perspective who Roger Dean is: a describer, and a creator; it is the vision that matters most to Dean. Next there is a discussion on Roger Dean's technique and how it gives his work its distinct style. Finally there is a biographical outline of Dean.

"Furniture" looks at the design concepts that he developed while he was in art school (1961-1968) and the concepts of design within the constraints of the environment. One of his ideas was that of a chair that one could do anything with. One that was adaptable in shape and use. This led to the Sea Urchin chair.

"Album Covers" explores how Dean got involved with album covers. It actually started in 1968 with the cover of an album for a band named Gun. This section looks at album covers from bands other than Yes. These include Budgie, Uriah Heep, Badger, Greenslade, and McKendree Spring.

"Yes" focuses on the body of work that Roger Dean is most known for. From late 1971 onward, he has had a relationship that even Steve Howe said "There is a pretty tight bond between our sound and Roger's art." This chapter looks at the covers for several Yes albums as well as the set designs that were created by Roger and his brother Martyn Dean.

"Retreat Pod" looks at another project done with Martyn Dean which was designed to be a piece of equipment that is to allow one to free their minds. It is an environment that contains speakers and specialized lighting. It was first demonstrated at the Maples-Telegraph exhibition. It was soon after this that it made an appearance in A Clockwork Orange.

"Architecture" examines the fact that while working in the school of furniture design at the Royal College of Art in London, Dean was struck by the extent that furniture was made to compensate for inadequate architecture. During this time he found himself questioning the very nature of domestic architecture and the role of the house itself. Here, his thoughts on architecture are explored.

When it was first released Views was a groundbreaking book that encompassed the work of Roger Dean. Today, while the topic of the Sea Urchin chair seem a bit dated, the thought behind it is still interesting. The rest of the book is just fascinating. The book is sized to that of an album cover, and the full color images are high quality.

Views was more than ready for a re-release. I have always loved Dean's work as he set the stage for a new generation in fantasy art. If you want to understand the work of the early Roger Dean better then Views will give you that insight. I highly recommend this book.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.