Street art has become mainstream. Street artists are increasingly in demand as commercial artists and recording artists are turning to these readily identifiable painters for cover art for their recordings. In America, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring and designed record covers in the eighties, and Shepard Fairey, Robert del Naja (aka 3D) and Banksy (the latter two in the UK) produced covers mainly from the nineties onwards.
Covers by Basquiat and Fairey‘s art covers are very collectible and many are currently very expensive as they were produced in limited editions. Vinyl covers with Banksy designs are also rare and command high prices. I was lucky enough to start collecting Banksy’s record cover art relatively early and have managed to collect what I consider to be a complete collection of his record cover art. Thierry Guetta–better known as Mr. Brainwash–is a more recent street artist to design record sleeves. So far I have only been able to identify three such covers; all for Madonna. He designed the cover for her 2009 compilation “Celebration” which was released on vinyl as a 4 LP set in a gatefold cover.
Record Label Side 1.
Record Label Side 2.
Record Label Side 3.
Record Label Side 4.
Record Label Side 5.
Record Label Side 6.
Record Label Side 7.
Record Label Side 8.
There is also a 12″ EP of “Celebration” remixes.
Then there are a variety of CD releases. The standard double CD uses the same Mr. Brainwash image as the LP set, but there is a slightly different (more anemic) variation also.
And the 12″ picture disc and CD singles hare the same artwork:
A couple of other records turned up when I searched http://www.discogs.com for other cover art by Mr. Brainwash and I fell for one that I thought probably was by him–Travis Barker‘s “Give the Drummer Some“:
Travis Barker’s “Give the Drummer Some” LP cover front.
Travis Barker’s “Give the Drummer Some” LP cover rear.
Unfortunately, this cover is NOT by Mr. Brainwash but is by Pushead (aka Brian Schroeder, who, according to Wikipedia, is a graphic designer and record label owner.) More of his designs may be seen here. Skulls seem to be his speciality!
I enjoy visiting the A & D Gallery in Chiltern Street, London, on my regular visits to spend time with my aged mother. I enjoyed the banter with my friends, the late Daniel Brant and Helen Clarkson (who now runs the gallery). I learnt a whole lot about pop art, and in particular about Andy Warhol’s art, from these experts. Daniel had sold a couple of signed copies of the Rolling Stones’ “Love You Live” album in previous years and I had told him hat I would be interested in a copy should he ever find another. Three or four years ago he mailed me that he had included copies of “Sticky Fingers” and “Love You Live” in an auction and I was lucky to be able to by them.
Late in 2018, I met John Peter Nilsson, from Moderna Museet, in Stockholm during the Warhol 1968 exhibition at the museum in Stockholm. I pointed out that one of the eight Andy Warhol designed record covers on display (by The East Village Other) was NOT designed or illustrated by Warhol. And I mentioned that I had a complete set of Warhol covers. John Peter suggested that, when the exhibition moves to Moderna in Malmö in March 2019, so we agreed on my lending records to the exhibition.
Just prior to collecting the records I came across an autographed copy of Paul Anka’s 1976 album “The Painter” signed by both Andy Warhol and Paul Anka. Apparently, Warhol signed the cover outside The Factory in December 1986, just two moths before he died, and Paul Anka signed it later.
Most recently I found a copy of Billy Squier’s “Emotions in Motion” album signed by Andy Warhol. Unusually, this is an Italian pressing. The provenance is from a gallery in Rome that bought the album from Anita Pallenberg.
Apparently, this was signed in for Anita at The Factory in 1985. I’m a little suspicious, however.The signature soesn’t look 100% and I wonder how Anita Pallenberg happened to have her Italian copy of the album with her in New York… Perhaps I’m being too suspicious, though.
But the signed album any Warhol collector really wants is, of course, a copy of The Velvet Underground & Nico!
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.
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.
Andy Warhol painted his portrait of Prince Rogers Nelson (June 7, 1958 – April 21, 2016) in 1984 and it appeared in the November issue of Vanity Fair that same year and was used for the cover of Conde Nast’s 2016 memorial magazine “The Genius of Prince”.
Warhol always worked from photographs, usually, though with some famous exceptions, using ones he had taken himself–most commonly with his Polaroid camera.
However, Prince was less than pleased with it, reportedly saying that Warhol’s portrait of MJ (Michael Jackson) was much better!
One photograph that Warhol did not take, however, was the basis for his Flower silkscreens in 1964. He found Patricia Caulfield’s photo of hibiscus flowers in a 1964 issue of the magazine Modern Photography and appropriated it.
Two years later Caulfield sued Warhol for infringement of copyright and in a settlement, Warhol offered her two sets of the Flowers prints; an offer Caulfield refused preferring a cash settlement.
In 1981, photographer Lynn Goldsmith had taken a publicity photo of Prince. Warhol’s portrait image looks suspiciously like it is copied from Goldsmith’s photograph and Goldsmith tried to achieve a settlement with the Warhol Foundation for the use of the image. However, the Warhol Foundation, in a preemptive move, decided to sue Goldmith to prevent her from taking legal action against it.
It seems that fair use laws in the U.S. mean that an artist may use other artists work as the basis for their own work and that Warhol’s art is protected under these laws. It seems that Lynn Goldsmith will not benefit from Warhol’s possible use of her original photograph.
Gröna Lund is a permanent attraction in Stockholm with exciting rides, restaurants, bars and an important concert stage on which most of the world’s more famous artistes–ranging from Birgit Nilsson via Chuck Berry to The Clash–have performed.
Posters for events and concerts at Gröna Lund have become highly collectible. Between 1971 and 1988 they were designed by one man, Nils Sture Jansson–who produced about 800 individual posters, sometimes with incredibly short deadlines. In 2012 Premium Publishing produced a book containing 200 of Nils Sture Jansson’s poster designs edited by Nils Sture Jansson’s son, Jonas, and Gröna Lund’s own historian Andreas Theve. The book rapidly sold out when it was published–but I was lucky to find a copy in Söders Bokhandel– a little, but extremely well-stocked bookshop in Stockholm. The book has also become highly collectible.
Nils Sture Jansson’s relatively simple illutrations capture the spirit of the artists and, according to the introduction, were much admired by them. Only a few were unhappy–and that was sometimes due to the fact that his or her name was misspellt.
Here are some samples (posters for artists I personally like):
Jansson would be supplied with photos of the artist(s) and deconstruct them to make his poster designs.
Kristian Russell has taken over and is continuing the tradition of Gröna lund posters.
Poster for Henrik Berggren’s concert on the 50th anniversary of Jimi Hendrix’s concert on the same stage.
The 50th anniversary of the release of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” has caused considerable interest in various aspects of what came to be called “the summer of love”; 1967’s glorious pop year. It was also the time of “Swinging London” and Carnaby Street’s first heyday.
That the cover of the “Sgt. Pepper” album would become a classic had been foreseen by Beatles manager Brian Epstein who wanted a “proper” artist to design the cover rather than the original psychedelic ideas suggested by fashion designers The Fool. From an idea by Paul McCartney via his friend and gallery owner Robert Fraser, Peter Blake and Jann Haworth were recruited and with some input from Jann’s father, Ted, the couple set to work.
It didn’t take long for the first of many pastiches of the cover art to appear. The Mothers of Invention’s album “We’re Only in It for the Money” released in March 1968, was one of the earliest. Frank Zappa wanted the cover (designed by Cal Schenkel) to be a copy of the “Sgt. Pepper” cover and asked Paul McCartney for approval. Apparently McCartney wished that Zappa’s and The Beatles’ mangers discussed the suggestion. Zappa went ahead but Verve Records, who would release the album, would not allow Schenkel’s copy of the “Sgt. Pepper” montage to appear on the front so the band’s portrait, photographed against a yellow background became the outside of the gatefold.
The front cover of “We’re Only in It for the Money”.
The lyrics, printed against a similar red background to those on the “Sgt. Pepper” cover appeared on the inside of the gatefold opposite Schenkel’s montage.
Release of “We’re Only in It for the Money” was delayed five months because of the record company’s anxiety over a possible infringement of copyright. In the event there was no reaction as the front cover only revealed four band members.
There have been innumerable pastiches of the “Sgt. Pepper” cover since the Mothers of Invention’s album; ranging from albums by the Muppets and Simpsons to more “serious” artist like The Ruttles. An Internet search turns up literally hundreds. Probably only the cover photo from The Beatles’ “Abbey Road” has been copied/parodied more often.
My collection includes only three pastiches of the (probably) hundreds out there, collected because of their originality (and possibly rarity). The oldest, from 1969, is Jack O’Reilly’s “You Can Be a Ventriloquist” (subtitled “Constable O’Rourke’s Wooden Hearts Club Band“, just so that no one would miss the reference to “Sgt. Pepper“). An instructional album that was probably privately pressed and thus in relatively limited numbers. O’Reilly went to inordinate expense to put together a background of forty ventriloquists’ dummies for the cover photograph.
The second example is a Japanese album by Jun Fukamachi called (not so strangely) “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band“. Fukamachi plays several of the “Sgt. Pepper” songs rendered as jazz tunes. I like the cover for the idea of reversing the whole scene. It must have taken weeks to paint!
And the final parody that I have collected is another Japanese release–Junichi Masuda’s “Pokèmon” LP from 2015. This is an unoffical release on the Moonshake record label. Masuda, who is programmer and director at Pokèmon also makes the music to video games. The “Pokèmon” album was released in several versions. The “standard” album came in four variations of coloured vinyl housed in a cover that is a parody of the “Sgt. Pepper” design.
Oh, and I have been guilty of plagiarism, too. In 2009 I curated an exhibition of Peter Blake’s record cover art at Piteå Museum. Together with my friends at In the Cold bureau we designed a cover for the exhibition catalogue, of course modelling it on the “Sgt. Pepper” design, but with all the artists that Blake had made record covers for.
In 2010, I showed my collection of Peter Blake’s record covers at the A and D Gallery in London, and Sir Peter Blake signed m catalogue. I wonder if it didn’t inspire him to produce his 2012 update of the Sgt. Pepper cover…
I don’t have this print, though it would make a nice addition to my collection of Sir Peter Blake’s record cover art.
Anyway, I really hope I won’t be tempted to buy any more “Sgt. Pepper” pastiches.