“Art does not necessarily need to be experienced within the walls of museums” - Francesco Spampinato
Art is more than just paint on canvas and as enthusiasts we need to keep our minds open to all artistic mediums. Art has a long and interesting history of collaborations and influences between different movements and even disciplines.
Sometimes album covers are helped on their way to iconic status because of the musicians they feature: stars, such as David Bowie, or Prince, whose recognisable faces we know and love. Other album covers are envisioned by creative masterminds. Here we explore our favourite collaborations between visual artists and their fellow musicians and explore the ways they are making Art accessible to new generations.
1. Drake & Damien Hirst
For his latest studio release, ‘Certified Lover Boy,’ Drake commissioned British artist Damien Hirst to create the album cover.
The art depicts 12 pregnant women emojis reminiscent of Hirst's ‘The Virgin Mother’ (2005) but arranged in a uniform grid pattern with alternate shirt and skin colours, akin to Hirst’s ‘Spot Paintings’ (2012). Hirst’s repetition of themes and motifs is nothing new, the extremely influential ‘young british artist’ is quoted as saying: “People are afraid of change, so you create a kind of belief for them through repetition. It’s like breathing. I’ve always been drawn to series and pairs. A unique thing is quite a frightening object.”
Drake is no stranger to the Pop Art world and has a collection of art boasting renowned names like Andy Warhol, KAWS and Takashi Murakami. Drake even owns a print of Hirst’s 2007 sculpture ‘For the love of God’ which hangs in his Toronto condo.
There has been speculation about the meaning behind the cover, is it alluding to Drake’s own fertility? Is it suggesting it’s an album fit for conceiving children? Adding to the mystery is the fact the album was delayed for 9 months and was released on the US national holiday ‘Labour day’.
2. Sam Fender & David Shrigley
Musicians often release several versions of the same albums with differing album art. This is what Sam Fender, North-East born singer-songwriter chose to do for his second album ‘Seventeen Going Under’. British visual artist, Guardian cartoonist and director of Blur’s ‘Good Song’ video, David Shrigley, designed the album cover for a limited edition vinyl release of the record. The work depicts several grey circles with a reflection of a pale figure in each painted in the typical naive Shrigley fashion, inscribed in the bottom right of the cover are the lyrics ‘I catch myself in the mirror’.
3. Lady Gaga & Jeff Koons
Inspired by Botticelli's ‘The Birth of Venus’ and driven by a necessity of rebirth after her ‘Born This Way’ period, Lady Gaga commissioned contemporary dadaist Jeff Koons to create the art for her ‘Artpop’ album. The record is described by Gaga as a "reverse Warholian expedition" that aims to blur the lines between art and pop.
The cover itself is a throwback to Koons at his boldest when he portrayed himself and the porn star Ilona Staller (briefly his wife) as naked lovers. The image depicts a huge sculpture in Gaga’s likeness sitting on a shell and birthing a large polished orb (just like Koons’ gazing ball series) with the album title ‘ARTPOP’ in front. Gaga said the cover is a “real depiction of my mind through his.”
4. Kanye West & Takashi Murakami
Bringing an end to the educational themes in his previous albums, influential rapper, producer and owner of Yeezy, Kanye West collaborated with post-modernist artist Takashi Murakami on the artistic direction and cover of his album ‘Graduation’.
The cover executed in Murakami’s signature manga and anime–inspired style shows West’s anthropomorphic teddy bear mascot/alter ego ‘Dropout bear’ being fired from a cannon into the sky. The cover art for Graduation was cited as the fifth best album cover of the year by Rolling Stone. Murakami later created a three minute animated music video for the opening track on the album ‘Good morning’. The video depicts ‘Dropout bear’ overcoming obstacles on a mission to reach his college graduation.
5. The Velvet Underground & Andy Warhol
Potentially the most iconic cover on this list is the art created by Andy Warhol for The Velvet Underground’s 1967 album, ‘The Velvet Underground & Nico’. The cover depicts a banana in the classic warhol pop art style on a white background, the original album cover allowed fans to peel back the banana skin as a sticker, revealing the fruit of a nude-colored banana underneath.
Warhols involvement in the band was actually more than just a commission, he used to pay for the recording sessions and is credited as a producer on the album.
These works not only act as accessible pieces of art but enhance the entire experience of the listener acting as the all important first impression. The cover is also just as important to the artists involved, often having a direct impact on the overall commercial success of a record. It’s clear that artists of different disciplines working together in fact embolden one anothers practice rather than diluting their respective creative output.
Explore the unique and timeless classics of David Shrigley as part of our Signature collection at Hancock Gallery.