I have only seen Sonic Youth live once. That was at Hultsfred”s Festival in 2002. The concert can be seen on YouTube. I don’t remember too much about the show, only Kim Gordon’s pink dress and that I thought there were very few people gathered for such a major band. The video, however, makes it look like there was a huge crowd.
I recently discovered that Kim Gordon was an art school-trained artist as well as a musician and that she had designed record covers. Quite unknowingly, I actually had one of her cover designs in my collection — Ciccone Youth’s 12″ maxi single Into the Groove(y)/Burnin’ Up. It was Guy Minnebach who pointed this out.
Sonic Youth have used other monicas than Ciccone Youth. In 2004 the band released an album called simply Sonic Nurse, with Richard Prince’s painting of a nurse as its cover art. There were four different paintings on this beautiful cover.
This was my first contact with Richard Prince’s art. To my mind it established a relationship between him and Sonic Youth. Prince is known as a painter and photographer and has even used found objects such as cars. He is also a musician and in 2015 recorded a song, Loud Song and released it on a CD.
There was an exhibition of Richard Prince’s art in 2016 called It’s a Free Concert Now and for that exhibition Prince produced a limited edition, single-sided 12″ picture disc with the same title and two tracks, It’s a Free Concert Now and Loud Song. There were 25 numbered and signed copies and 25 unnumbered, unsigned copies.
Richard Prince used a detail from one of Kim Gordon’s paintings for the cover of his limited edition 12″ single Loud Song released in 2016. One edition of 250 was signed and numbered and the record pressed on white vinyl. However, my copy, while signed, is unnumbered and the record is pressed on black vinyl. I don’t know the size of this edition.
In 2019, The Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh released a double album by Gordon, Bill Nace, Steve Gunn & John Trusinsky of the Sound for Andy Warhol’s KISS concert, held the previous year atthe Museum. The cover art was made up of stills from Andy Warhol’s Kiss film. The clear vinyl records also had similar stills on their labels.
A further Kim Gordon cover has appeared. The band Talk Normal released a 7″ single called Lone General in 2011 with cover art by Gordon, with very abstract impressionistic drips! This limited edition single was released on both black and clear vinyl.
I am on the lookout for more covers by both Richard Prince and Kim Gordon to add to my collection.
Andy Warhol was an artist — both commercial and “fine”. But he was so much more beside. He was an author, film maker, photographer, publisher, business mogul, socialite, collector, hoarder and, not least, what today would be called an “influencer”.
All facets of his creativity are represented on the sixty plus record covers he produced during his lifetime and have been almost continuously produced since his death over thirty years ago. Warhol’s film career began with the film Sleep — a five hour and twenty minute monochrome, silent film — starring John Giorno (1936-2019) released in 1964. However, Warhol had already begun filming his Screen Tests a year earlier and by the end of 1966 had filmed over five hundred of these three minute studies, of which four hundred and seventy have survived. The subjects of these Screen Tests were Superstars, friends, sundry famous people, anonymous Factory visitors and associates. They were not intended as screen tests in the film industry meaning of the term. They were not auditions for parts in any of Warhol’s films. They were simply portraits of the sitter. They were simply arranged. Warhol placed his Bolex camera on a tripod, arranged the lighting and seated the sitter so that he or she would be filmed from the shoulders up usually in front of a light background. Such luminaries as Bob Dylan, Dennis Hopper, Salvador Dalí, Allen Ginsburg, Jim Rosenquist and Ivan Karp sat for Screen Tests, along side Factory Superstars such as Edie Sedgwick and Jane Holzer and Factory stalwarts Billy Linich (Billy Name), Gerard Malanga, Mary Woronov and Ondine (Robert Olivo). Of course musicians Nico, Lou Reed and John Cale all sat as did Ed Sanders and Rufus Collins. Steven Watson’s book Factory Made: Warhol and the Sixties lists just sixty one of the people portrayed in Screen Tests, many filmed more than once.
While Warhol’s illustrations and commercial art grace the covers of records produced from his earliest days in New York in 1949 through to the early 1960s, in wasn’t until 1978 that a still from one of the Screen Tests appeared on a record cover. This was a still from Susanne de Maria’s screen test. Susanne de Maria Wilson married artist and musician Walter de Maria in 1960. Walter de Maria had joined John Cale, Lou Reed and Ton Conrad in a band called the Primitives, a name suggested by their record label, Pickwick. Susanne de Maria met artist Joseph Cornell in 1962 when she was working at the Museum of Modern Art and became his assistant until 1968. The record that used a still from her Screen test was by a band called Skyline and was a bootleg released on the Four Stars label in 1978. The cover image was identified by Raimund Floeck and Guy Minnebach from illustrations in Callie Angell’s Andy Warhol Screen Tests. The Films of Andy Warhol. Catalogue raisonné, Vol. 1.
No further stills from any of Warhol’s films appeared on record or CD covers in Warhol’s lifetime. The next was John Cale’s Eat/Kiss–Music for the Films of Andy Warhol in 1997. The booklet used stills from both Eat and Kiss.
The following year, the band Hopewell released their CD Contact that used a still from Warhol’s Empire State film as its cover image.
The latest release to feature stills from Screen Tests appeared in 2010 on a 7-inch sigle by Dean and Britta called I’ll Keep it With Mine / It Doesn’t Rain in Beverly Hills. This was released by The Warhol Museum in a limited edition of 500 numbered copies.
The latest release to use stills from a Warhol film was also produced by The Warhol Museum. This was a limited edition double LP of 500 copies released in May 2019 titled Sound for Andy Warhol’s Kiss. The concert by ex Sonic Youth member Kim Gordon (vocals, guitars, harmonica) supported by Bill Nace (guitar, shruti box), Steve Gunn (guitar), and John Truscinski (percussion, electronics) was recorded live in The Warhol theater on August 1 and 2, 2018. The sound score was by Kim Gordon. The gatefold sleeve housed two LPs pressed on clear vinyl. The second disc was single-sided with a silkscreen still image from the film Kiss on the record’s B-side. There is also a booklet featuring work and essays from the Museum’s Kim Gordon: Lo-Fi Glamour exhibition which ran from (May 19 – September 1, 2019).
Andy Warhol made hundreds of films (if you choose to include each of his Screen Tests). You can find an exhaustive list on Wikipedia. Chelsea Girls is probably the best known and most often shown. However, only Sleep, Eat, Empire and Kiss and a single ScreenTest have been remembered on record and CD covers. And, with the exception of the last of these, all long after Warhol’s death.
These five recordings are the only ones I have been able to identify that use images from Warhol’s films — probably one area of Andy Warhol’s productions that has recently been reevaluated.