A while ago I went to Wetterling Gallery,one of Stockholm’s premier galleries, to view an exhibition and saw two paintings by twin artists Mike & Doug Starn. These paintings were abstract works painted on record covers which were hung with magnets onto a metal backing plate allowing each record cover to be removed and the record contained within played! Each individual record cover still had its original album inside.
On 11th June the Wetterling Gallery held an opening reception for a repeat show of Mike & Doug Starn’s art with the artists in attendance.
There were six large works and two smaller ones in the show–all painted on record covers.
Untitled: Right in the Bed Next to Mine (on 12 record covers)
Monitor: Feed Your Head (on 70 record covers).
Black & White: And it Feels Like This! (on 12 record covers).
Little Richard (on 30 record covers)
I’m Only Five Foot One (on 70 record covers–the eleventh row at the bottom had to be left off as otherwise the painting would not have fitted on the wall!)
TOP: Ravenna: NInety Miles and Hour, Girl (1 gatefold record cover). Bottom: Untitled: Come on, Come on, Come on, Come on and Take It (1 gatefold record cover).
Untitled: Burt the Rainbow Has a Beard (on 35 record covers).
According to my count there were a total of 201 record covers used for these eight artworks. I wondered if Mike and Doug raided all the secondhand record stores to source the covers. There seemed not to be any logic in the arrangement of the covers, not in the motifs painted on them, with the exception of the “Little Richard” painting. And as the exhibition was called “Iggy and Franz”, I assumed the painting with the androgyn figure, called “I’m Only Five Foot One”, pictured Iggy Pop.
These paintings were not cheap! Prices ranged from $10,000 + VAT for the two single cover works to $195,000 + VAT for the largest ones. Somewhat out of my price range.
In a previous post I reported on British artist Peter Liversidge’s record cover art. Liversidge’s art is quite fascinating. in 2013 he arranged for children in an east London school to suggest and mount a protest on any subject–that they themselves, independently of adult suggestions–wanted to protest about. They made placards and chants to go with their protest and in 2015 staged it at Lonson’s Whitechapel Gallery. Otherwise Liversidge is known for his concept art, producing proposals for galleries to carry out. In his recent exhibition at Bonniers konsthall in Stockholm, entitled “Working Title II” he had produced 45 “Proposals”, each neatly typed on a separate A4 sheet of paper and framed on one wall of the exhibition space.
Bonniers konsthall had also published the proposals in a book:
In addition the gallery had produced Liversidge’s book “Notes on Protesting” describing his projects.
Another aspect of Liversidge’s art is his passion for collecting objects that resemble faces. One room in the gallery was devoted to this aspect of his art with carpets, rocks and masks.
Peter is a music lover (as I have found many artists to be) and friends with members of various bands for whom he has provided cover art. I had managed to find four LPs with Liversidge designs:
– Low–Ones and Sixes (2015)
– The High Plains–Cinderland (2017)
– Allred & Broderik –Find the Ways (2017)
– Low– Double Negative (2018)
On the Liversidge’s exhibitions penultimate day (February 16th, 2019), the artist attended the galley to do a book signing and I went along with my records to try to get them signed, too.
Peter was surprised (and apparently quote pleased) to see his record covers in these surroundings and was very happy to sign them. But he didn’t want to sign the front covers, preferring either to sign the inner sleeves or the backs. However, I managed to persuade him to sign the front of Low’s “Double Negative” cover–and he agreed it looked great that way.
Low’s “Double Negative” cover and inner sleeve signed by Peter Liversidge.
He also signed the other three covers:
Peter told be a couple of stories about how the album art evolved. Theinner spread of the “Ones and Sixes” album has pictures of an owl taken in British Columbia. Originally, a bald eagle was suggested as the bird to be shown, but as this is the U.S.’s national bird the suggestion was shelved and the owl substituted. On Low’s other album “Double Negative” Peter had suggested using a different mask on the cover:
Peter also told me about a record cover he had designed that I had not managed to find. This was Wires Under Tension’s 2012 album “Replicant”.
Before leaving I managed to get Peter to pose for a photo with one of his masks–and the cover of “Double Negative”.
I’ve been quite confident that I had all of Klaus Voormann’s record and CD covers bar one (the LP “Wer nie im Bett Programm Gemacht“), but a fellow rateyourmusic.com member (Warpkernbruch) showed my that there were several CD covers that I had missed by a musician named Achim Schultz and his band Achim Schultz Over Twenty. I had never heard of Achim Schultz. A Google search reveals little. He is a music producer with his own studio and record label (imaginatively called Achim Schultz) in Munich and has recorded several CDs. He must be on good terms with Klaus Voormann as Klaus has provided cover art for three CDs by Schultz and one for a German group called The Pleasure. I know nothing of them except that they have released two albums: “The Pleasure” in 2006 and “Travel Inside” in November 2008, Klaus drew the cover for the latter album.
Achim Schultz’s CDs include “Bye Bye George Harrison“, released on Achim’s own label in 2006, which includes the tribute track with the same title, a CD single “Give Peace a Chance” from 2008 and “Welcome“, from 2009 the latter two credited to Achim Schultz Over Twenty.
All four covers show Klaus Voormann’s incomparable draughtsmanship.
Klaus Voormann in his recently published book “It Started in Hamburg” provides pictures of several recent covers that I haven’t been able to trace. Klaus says some of the records for which he has designed the covers may, or may not, be released. These are Gaby Moreno’s & Van Dyke Parks’ “Spangled!“, Wukong & The Grim Shadows same titled album, and Stephen Dale Petit’s “2020 Vision“. I’ll keep an eye out for these to see if they ever surface.
Bonniers Konsthall in Stockholm shows a wide variety of art exhibitions. I saw Turner Prize winner Susan Phillipz “Lost in Space” exhibition there a couple of years ago and I went to see the gallery’s latest exhibition by British artist Peter Liversidge. I hadn’t heard of him before seeing the exhibition. Liversidge’s preferred medium is providing “proposals”–he types suggestions for art happenings on A4 paper on his Olivetti portable typewriter. The proposals range from simple orders to suggestions that are complex and possibly impossible to realise. The exhibition at Bonniers konsthall has 45 of Liversidge’s “proposals” as its starting point. These 45 proposals are neatly framed A4 papers with his suggestions for projects arranged on one wall in three rows of fifteen frames.
On the floor in front of the frames is a pile of A2 papers each printed with “Let’s take a walk together”. Visitors to the exhibition are invited to take one or more of these posters home. There is a shelf on the wall opposite the framed proposals with various implements standing on it, each covered in postage stamps. Apparently Liversidge often uses the postal service to send articles to his exhibitions. Bonniers konsthall allows the postman/postwoman to arrange the item that is being delivered on the shelf. Thus the postal service acts as a sort of exhibition curator.
Peter Liversidge’s posted objects.
Close-up showing the stamps on each object.
One suspects that some objects might possibly get lost in the post. Nobody knows which, if any, don’t make to their destination, adding mystery to the exhibition.The idea of sending repeated missives through the post reminded me immediately of Japanese -American artist On Kawara (1932-2014), who throughout his career sent postcards to friends and institutions with stamped messages. One series stated “I got up at—-o’clock”, and another simply stated “I am still alive”.
The gallery shows a film of another of Liversidge’s projects. He asked a class at an east London school to make a protest about any subject they felt strongly about. It had to be the children’s project–not one suggested by teachers of adults. The film I saw was a protest about dogs fouling pavements with placards saying things like “clean up after your dog”. This protest was stages at the Whitechapel Gallery in 2014.
Another of Liversidge’s ongoing projects is collecting artifacts that look like faces and one room of the exhibition is devoted to found objects that resemble faces and masks that Liversidge has produced from such objects.
A day or two after I seen the Liversidge exhibition, I got an email about the best record cover designs of 2018 and was surprised when I saw a cover bearing one of Liversidge’s masks among the nominated covers. The album is “Double Negative” by the American band Low (released in September 2018). Liversidge has also designed the cover for the band’s 2015 album “Ones and Sixes”, and it transpires that he has designed at least two other record sleeves: one for High Plains’ album “Cinderland” (2017) and another “Find the Ways” (2017) by Allred & Broderick.
I always find it interesting when “fine” artists design record covers. There’s a long list of them ranging from Sir Peter Blake to Damien Hirst via Andy Warhol. I’m looking forward to seeing all Peter Liversidge’s record covers. I currently have two other covers (in addition to the “Double Negative” cover); Allred & Broderick’s “Find The Ways” and High Plains “Cinderland”.
Allred & Broderick’s LP “Find the Ways”. Cover by Peter Liversidge.
High Plains “Cinderland” LP. Cover by Peter Liversidge.
As anyone knows who has been following my blog, I’ve been collecting record covers by Sir Peter Blake for a long time. I’ve also been to numerous gallery shows and museum exhibition of Peter Blake’s art. I also have a number of exhibition catalogues from a various Peter Blake exhibitions. In addition I have several books on record cover art and one by graphic designer Richard Evans–who I guess is a Peter Blake fan too.
Richard Evans (born 30th March 1945 (as he states on his web page the same day as Eric Clapton) is a graphic designer, artist and photographer who has designed record covers for a great many artists including Robert Plant, Van Morrison, World Party, Pete Townsend and has been “official” designer to The Who since the mid 1970s.
Richard Evans published his book “The Art of the Record Cover” in 2010 and it is a chronological guide to record cover design and includes, at the end, a section on how to design one’s own record cover.
One of Richard Evans’s covers for a 1985 compilation album by The Who called “Who’s Missing” features tracks not previously available on LP and the cover–to another fan of Peter Blake’s art–seems inspired by Blake’s 1960-1 painting/collage “Got a Girl” (the title comes from a 1960 single by The Four Preps (Capitol 4362)).
This album was only released in America and I have been looking for a copy to keep beside my Peter Blake covers for several years, and I finally found one in my favourite Stockholm record emporium.
I have been searching for record covers designed by Peter Blake for several decades, but never come across this one before. Advertised on Ebay with a starting price of £0.99, was a CD titled “Colours” by a trio calling themselves A Stranger Shadow. Never heard of them, and apparently nor have many others as I can find no information on Internet music sites such as Allmusic, Discogs or Rateyourmusic. A Stranger Shadow are/were Paul Wilby (bass guitar, piano, vocals), Diana Jones (acoustic guitar, vocals) and Anne Harris (violin, percussion, vocals). They seem onlyto have recorded this one fourteen-track album, released in 1995. Discogs lists a 1984 7″ single by Paul Wilby titled “Nobody Needs You/Animosity Crept in” but that’s all I have found.
The booklet cover, is a sort of collage, and is signed at lower right by the artist. But how did this unknown group manage to get Peter Blake to design the cover? Was their record label — Mixed Bag Records — involved?
It would be wonderful if this album had also been released on vinyl, but I suppose record companies assumed in 1995 that vinyl was dead.
I have already posted the several versions of “The Velvet Underground & Nico” album. I have fallen for the temptation to include albums with cover art that is a pastiche of Warhol’s banana design or designs that influenced Warhol’s designs.
I found six pastiches of the banana cover, including several with removable stickers in various designs.
1. Crue-L Grand Orchestra – Family – 12″ EP – MayDay MayDay Records – 1999.
2. Various Artists – The Velvet Underground & Nico – 12″ LP – Castle Face Records – 2012.
3. Fauré Quartet – Popsongs – 2 x 12″ LP – Deutsche Grammophon – 2009.
4. Bud Benderbe – Slice Slowly & See – 12″ LP – Boo-Hooray Records – 2013.
5. Abwärts – Sonderzug zur endstation – 7″ EP – Virgin – 1990.
6. All You Can Eat / Hickey – Banana Split – Split 7″ EP – Monitor Records – 1995.
The last two of these simply had a printed banana on the covers.
Another Warhol pastiche, this time with soup cans:
1. Mindswings – Spiritual High – 12″ EP – Arista – 1990.
And a cover obviously used by Andy as for the design of the “Progressive Piano” design:
1. Jan August – Plays Songs to Remember – 12″ LP – Mercury – 1955.
On the subject of pastiches, I also picked up a wonderful “Sgt Pepper” pastiche by Jun Fukamachi with cover painted by Fumio Tamabuchi:
1. Jun Fukamachi – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – 12″ LP – Toshiba – 1977.
A while ago I started searching for musicians among winners of the Tate Gallery’s Turner Prize and turned up an astonishing number of artists who were also musicians and had released records with their own art on the covers. In 2017 I could include record cover by two of them–Suzan Philipsz and Wolfgang Tillmans.
Susan Philipsz: Susan Philipsz – Ziggy Stardust – Limited edition Digipak CD (500 copies) Susan Philipsz – Stay With Me – Book / catalogue with CD Susan Philipsz – Lost in Space – Limited edition picture disc LP in box set (300 copies) Susan Philipsz – There Is Nothing Left Here – Limited edition LP
In February I had the good fortune to meet Susan Philipsz at the opening of her “Lost in Space” exhibition at the Bonnier Gallery in Stockholm. She kindly signed the copy of her “Ziggy Stardust” CD and the book/catalogue from her “Stay With Me” exhibition from Malmö’s Konsthall. There was a catalogue introducing the “Lost in Space” exhibition and a limited edition box set of 300 copies that includes a 12″ picture disc of the performance. However, the box set was not available until a couple of months after the opening, so I didn’t get that signed… After considerable searching, I found the catalogue and LP from Philipsz’s 2008 “There Is Nothing Left Here” exhibition at the Centro Galego de Arte Contemporaneo in San Sebastian de Compostela.
Susan Philipsz “Stay With Me” exhibition catalogue with CD.
Susan Philipsz’ “There Is Nothing Left Here” 2008 LP.
The picture disc LP and book of Susan Philipsz’ “Lost in Space” installation.
Wolfgang Tillmans was another Turner Prize winner who’s records I found:
1. Wolfgang Tillmans – Here We Are – 12″ EP – Fragile – 2016.
2. Wolfgang Tillmans – 2016–1986 EP – 12″ EP – Fragile – 2016.
3. Wolfgang Tillmans – Device Control – 12″ EP – Fragile – 2016.
The cover of Tillmans’ latest EP “Thats Desire” EP.
Tillmans’ “Device Control” EP cover.
Wolfgang Tillmans’ “2016-19862 EP cover.
There were diverse other covers: A limited edition LP by Gilbert & George, entitled “The Thoughts of Gilbert & George” released by MoMa:
A Record Store Day soundtrack double LP release called “Ciao! Manhattan” with a cover drawing of Edie Sedgwick:
Having lived in Luleå, in the north of Sweden for more years than I can remember, I am acquainted with Karin “Mamma” Andersson’s art. Mattias Alkberg, poet and rocker, used her art on a 7″ single and a limite edition 12″ EP and I discovered that Beck had used her paintings to illustrate three limited edition 12″ singles, available only through his website.
1. Beck – Gimme – 2 x 12″ EP – Fonograf records – 2013.
1. Beck – Defriended – 12″ EP – Fonograf records – 2013.
1. Beck – I Won’t Be Long – 12″ EP – Fonograf records – 2013.
Beck “Gimme”. Cover art by Karin “Mamma” Andersson.
Beck “Defriended”. Cover art by Karin “Mamma” Andersson.
Beck “I Won’t Be Long”. Cover art by Karin “Mamma” Andersson.
In my music festival days, I got to know singer Henrik Berggren, formerly front man of the now defunct Broder Daniel. Henrik released his first solo album “Wolf’s Heart” after many year’s absence from the music scene. The standard album was released on black vinyl, but six record stores each had limited editions of 300 copies on coloured vinyl. There were yellow, light blue, violet, red, clear and pink vinyl issues. Being totally obsessive I bought copies in each colour.
Henrik Berggren’s “Wolf’s Heart” album on black, violet, red and yellow vinyl.
The pink and light blue vinyl versions of Henrik Berggren’s “Wolf’s Heart” LP.
Well, that sums 2017 up. A record year and the last time I will be publishing a list like this, My collections are so near complete as I can make them. So I feel it’s time to stop. I will try to keep the collections up to date if, and when, any of the artists I collect release new cover art.