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The Album Covers Designed By Artists
Hey Mr DJ put a record on, I want to dance with an artist…
Art Stuff 09 Aug 2019

We always talk about that moment when art and fashion connect, but what about art and music? Rihanna was spotted at Art Basel this year, Beyonce shot the music video for Apesh*t at the Louvre, and celebrities – including many recording artists – are often spotted at art parties. The album cover – an icon of any musicians oeuvre – is nearly always adorned with a piece of art work, and throughout the last century, many pop-stars have contacted their artist friends to help with their designs. There is even an exhibition devoted to cover designs happening right now at Cranbrook Art Museum. So, in honour of the time when we all went out and actually bought CDs and Vinyl disks, here’s a list of some of our favourite artist-musician collaborations.
 
Jeff Koons: Lady Gaga’s ARTPOP, 2003


Lady Gaga is arguably one of the biggest names in the world of pop right now, and Jeff Koons is just as easily the biggest name in the world of art. I.e. A match made in musical heaven. Koons depicts Gaga as a sculpture sitting on a shell, with one of his creepy – I mean interesting – blue crystal balls. In the background, we can see fragments of Botticelli’s Birth Of Venus, seemingly equating Gaga with the one of the most beautiful women to ever have lived (and also the title of one of the track’s on the album). If they wanted to get people’s attention, Gaga and Koons nailed it.
 
Andy Warhol: The Velvet Underground & Nico’s The Velvet Underground & Nico, 1967


Perhaps the most famous image of a banana ever. The Velvet Underground was the house band at Warhol’s Factory, so it seemed a no-brainer for the band to ask Warhol to create the artwork for their first album. And, the early versions were interactive too, as those who bought the album were actually able to peel the banana to reveal the fruit underneath. Pretty innovative, eh?
 
George Condo: Kanye West’s For My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, 2010


George Condo is famous for the grotesque faces made by the characters in his artworks, some of which graced the cover of this Kanye album. And, Kanye being Kanye, he couldn’t have just one artwork. Good heavens no. In fact, Kanye had nine cover artworks made by the artist.
 
Robert Mapplethorpe: Patti Smith’s Horses, 1975

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Robert Mapplethorpe went for minimalistic chic with the cover art for Patti Smith’s Horses. The pair were good friends and the intimate image was captured on Polaroid in Mapplethorpe’s New York apartment.
 
Keith Haring: David Bowie’s Without You, 1983


Word has it that David Bowie was a big collector of Keith Haring’s work. The ultimate prize for any collector is to have the artist make something especially for you, so it looks like Bowie won in that department. The sweet couple in Haring’s cover art has us feeling all-round good vibes.
 
Henri Fantin-Latour: New Order’s Power, Corruption and Lies, 1983


Henri Fantin-Latour died in 1904, so this artwork wasn’t exactly a direct collaboration between the band and the artist. The image was the idea of the band’s art director: Peter Saville, who bought a postcard of the painting at London’s National Gallery.
 
Gerhard Richter: Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation, 1988


The lone candle on the cover of this Sonic Youth album has an air of elegance and simplicity to it. Candle is actually the name of a song on the album, and the softness of the image does actually make us want to daydream. Mission accomplished!
 
Robert Rauschenberg: Talking Heads’ Speaking in Tongues, 1983


Talking Heads’ lead signer David Byrne approached Robert Rauschenberg about designing the band’s cover art after seeing his work at the infamous Leo Castelli Gallery. Rauschenberg didn’t make the packaging design easy though, he layered together three transparent collages – one per primary colour – which could only be seen once the disk was rotating on the record player. The complicated art was worth it though, as Rauschenberg went on to win a Grammy for it.
 
Peter Blake and Jann Haworth: The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, 1967

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THE BEATLES: SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND – 50th ANNIVERSARY EDITION ‘Sgt. Pepper’ è un concept album? L’idea iniziale di Paul era quella di inventare una band di alter-ego: “È liberatoria, ti permette di fare tutto quello che vuoi con il microfono o con la chitarra, perché non sei tu a farlo”. John però era di un’altra opinione: “Tutti i miei contributi non hanno nulla a che fare con questa idea di Sgt. Pepper e della sua band imaginaria. Ma funziona, perché abbiamo deciso che doveva funzionare, e quindi l’album è uscito così”. È questo il punto. Le canzoni rappresentano stili diversi eppure l’album, quando lo ascolti dall’inizio alla fine, è un lavoro unitario.�È diventato la colonna sonora della cosiddetta Summer of Love ma, allo stesso modo, il suo fascino è senza tempo. Trovi l’Anniversary Edition di questo album in vinile in edicola dal 27 luglio nella The Beatles Vinyl Collection Scopri tutto sulla collezione ➡️ www.deagostini.it/beatlesvinile . . . . #DeAgostiniVinyl #deagostini #vinile #VinylMania #VinylCollection #VinylCollector #VinylCommunity #VinylLover #instavinyl #vinili #vinylrecords #33giri #sgtpeppers #johnlennon #thebeatles #album #vinyllove #turntablist #recordoftheday #beatlemania #batlesforever #beatleslove #thebeatles #fabfour #sgtpepper #giradischi #dischi #45giri #dischiinvinile #negoziodidischi

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Perhaps one of the most famous album covers of all time, the collage includes 57 photographs and nine waxworks of famous people from all walks of life including (but not relegated to) actors, scientists and gurus. Blake told the band that if they had just used an image from a concert, then it could be an image from anywhere, or at any event. So he said to them that if they used cardboard cut-outs, then they could have a magical crowd of whoever they wanted. The album ended up costing £3,000 (£53,000 in 2019) to make during a time when they usually cost £50 (£900 in 2019). But, that price was probably worth it as one of the most celebrated albums in history.
 
Urs Fischer: Yeah Yeah Yeahs’s It’s Blitz, 2009

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It’s blitz!

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This artwork of a hand squashing an egg, is actually the hand of the band’s lead singer Karen O. The group went out of their way to find an artist from New York to make the cover, and settled on Swiss New York-based Urs Fischer. Don’t ask us what it means, but it certainly catches your attention.
 
Takashi Murakami: Kanye West’s Graduation, 2007   

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Flashing lights ————— ¿Should the existence of such perfectness be allowed? ¿Is it even possible to find such impeccably arranged synths anywhere else ? To create such power and beauty, to convey nostalgia and cause elevation through an instrumental, carry your wandering mind across an endless sea of strings that insert themselves into your brain, preparing you for the vibrant and perfectly sequenced collision of synths to hit you Memorable verses invite you to memorize every single word propelled towards you, All Building up to a fantastic chorus which Evoke feelings of nostalgia and relentless motion ¿Is there a better sounding, arranged and sequenced set of synths? ¿ is there even another instrumental so perfect in existence ? Possibly.. but this is unique and imposible to replicate, once in a lifetime arrangement of sounds, these are the moments that mark music history, this is not happening again, I just love everything about this song I don’t know, I’m just rambling about one of my favorite songs of all time, maybe I’m crazy, don’t mind me Wish you all the best

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Kanye asked Murakami to collaborate after just three months of knowing each other. Murakami’s acceptance is incredible seeing as he did not even know who Kanye West was before the first meeting (I know, hard to imagine right?). The art making process was collaborative, with Kanye having a lot of input into the finished product.
 
Richard Prince: Sonic Youth’s Sonic Nurse, 2011


In 2002 Richard Prince’s Overseas Nurse broke records when it sold at auction through Sotheby’s for $8, 452,000. Sonic Youth were definitely onto a winner when they commissioned the artist to make their cover art for them, knowing that they would reel in art lovers and music fans alike.
 
Ed Ruscha: Mason Williams’ Music, 1969


Ruscha and Williams actually grew up together in Oklahoma City, both leaving their hometown in the 1950s for a new life in Los Angeles. You will notice that Williams’ name is not on the cover so, something that upset his record bosses, so to satisfy them, the pair put “Sorry. Cover by Edward Ruscha”, on the back. Talk about sass!
 
Roy Lichtenstein: Bobby “O”s I Cry For You, 1983


We don’t know much about the story behind this collaboration. But who cares, Lichtenstein’s Crying Girl is an iconic image, making for an iconic album cover.
 
Text Lizzy Vartanian
Images via @keithharingfoundation, @god_save_the_music, @musiccollectorbr, @tyl.art, @blacknsquare.musics, @drmusic123, @bigchiefelectric, @rhpomusic, @joe.mckee_, @elementnoire, @hej_earl, @king_zola_reviews, @deagostinivinyl, @ritournette_vinyl

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