Talking Heads: Speaking in Tongues

image for Talking Heads: Speaking in Tongues
Catalogue Status
Research in Progress
Both recto and verso are reproductions of paintings and thus intentionally show the brushmarks of the originals.
Recto: Occupying center space is a seven inch diameter blue circle, its narrow inner rim in yellow and slightly thicker outer rim in white overlaid with purple dabs. A faint black spiral grows outward from a dot in the center of the circle and fades into the blue before reaching the rim. Behind the circle is an orange square with two borders, the inner one green and outer one red. In each of the four corners enclosed by the inner border is a black-rimmed photograph of the same easy chair in various positions, its plaid cover colored differently in green, pink, blue and purple. Above the circle, between the chairs at top left and right, Talking Heads is imprinted on one line in black capitals; although the band's name is recognizable to anyone familiar with it, the words are separated illogically so as to form nonsense syllables. The album title, Speaking in Tongues, on two lines between the lower left and right chairs, is similarly depicted.The outermost border, a rickrack design in greenish-brown on faded orange, completes the design.
Verso: A circle of the same size and in the same position as on the recto is divided into four quadrants of green, red, orange-yellow and purple. The two rims are identically colored and positioned to the recto, but each one is proportionally thicker. Wavy black vertical and horizontal lines bisect the circle, passing under the rims and extending beyond them almost to the edges of the album space. The background is green, mixed with black and white. In approximately the position of the chairs on the recto, there are four black rimmed rectangles in reddish-orange, with the song titles, musicians' names and production information imprinted in small black capitals. Four striped borders, blue and purple at the top, pink and red on the bottom, yellow and orange on the left, and two shades of green on the right complete the design.
Credit Line
Gift of Tibor Kalman/ M & Co.
See more items in
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum Collection
Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design Department
Accession Number
Design Director
Tibor Kalman, American, b. Hungary, 1949–1999
Design Team member
David Byrne
Carol Bokuniewicz
David Byrne
Bonny Lutz
David Byrne
M&Co, New York, New York, USA, 1979–1992
Offset lithography
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
graphic design
Object Name
Album Cover
Album Cover