by Pablo Yglesias (Princeton Architectural Press, 2005. ISBN: 156898460X).
A newly released book, ¡Cocinando!, focuses on fifty years of Latin album cover art. The fascinating compendium is a visual delight. It follows
the evolution of Latin cover artwork, portraying a myriad of styles that mirrored musical and social trends.
Author Pablo Yglesias, a Massachusetts-based graphic designer, describes the history of graphic design in Latin music, following the careers of some of the best and most creative designers. Even though the book contains historical descriptions, the main bulk of
¡Cocinando! is dedicated to color images of the art itself.
Latin music not always enjoyed great design.
In one of World Music Central‘s editorials, a book is mentioned, which lists a gallery of album cover horrors; the Guia Esencial de la Salsa (The Essential Guide to Salsa) has a section called “La Maldición Latina” or The Latin Curse. The Latin Curse spells out the blatant sex used on CD covers. Sexy covers are not necessarily bad, but many of them lack artistic sensibility. Thankfully,
¡Cocinando! focuses on the most remarkable designs.
I find specially attractive the covers made in the late 60s and 70s, with a psychedelic flavor. Many know about Santana’s remarkable covers, but the period also produced a multitude of lesser-known fabulous artwork, including albums by El Chicano, Mongo Santamaría, and Azteca.
The 240 page, full color book is a must have in order to understand the history of Latin music in the past decades.