Vox

Why this chair is on so many album covers

A lot of celebrity butts sat in this chair.

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The golden age of album cover design doesn’t have a specific start and end date, but many regard the late 1960s to 1970s as one of the field’s most exciting times. From the psychedelic rock covers of the ’60s to glistening airbrush covers of the ’70s, the era was a kaleidoscope of colors worthy of placement in modern art museums.

But there’s one genre of cover so ubiquitous it almost flew under the radar. The covers typically featured a wide shot of the artist sitting on a throne-like wicker chair, like a king or queen. Usually, the artist looked casual and relaxed; sometimes props would sit around them to decorate the scene. No matter what, the oversized woven chair was the main feature. This was the peacock chair album cover, and it was everywhere: Dolly Parton, Al Green, and Cher all sat in it.

This might seem like a weird blip of a trend over a few years in the 1970s, but a closer look reveals how deep the wicker chair portrait tradition goes. Spoiler alert: a full century. The video above tracks the origin of the peacock wicker chair portrait and tells the unlikely story of where this giant chair came from.

A detailed account of the history of wicker furniture and its place in pop culture was documented by Emily A. Morris in her paper The Development and Effects of the Twentieth-Century Wicker Revival: https://repository.si.edu/bitstream/handle/10088/18611/The%20Development%20and%20Effects%20of%20the%20Twentieth-Century%20Wicker%20Revival.pdf

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