Strange Dance

By Sophia Guddemi

From poems to paintings and sculptures to songs, art has a way of telling a story. These art forms also have a way of finding each other in collaboration to give observers a more immersive experience of the tale being told. One of the most powerful examples of this convergence is the artwork of an album cover and the music of the same album. When two artists intersect in pieces like this, the meaning of the cover can be less straightforward in order to provoke greater emotions from the reader. Artists and musicians have been working together for years in order to perfect their own method of storytelling through this partnership. Find out more here in Strange Dance.

Andy Warhol & The Velvet Underground for The Velvet Underground & Nico

For the band’s debut album released in March 1967, The Velvet Underground utilized the talent of their biggest cheerleader and manager Andy Warhol. Warhol supported the band extensively throughout their career, from inviting them to perform at his multimedia tour to financially uplifting them. The music of the band was considered provocative at the time, so Warhol aimed to create a cover that would match the controversial nature of what awaited listeners inside.

Keith Haring & David Bowie for Without You

Bowie’s single Without You was released in November 1983 in lieu of his 15th studio album Let’s Dance. The cover art, done by Keith Haring, artist and social activist, was a rarity in Haring’s career, as he would only design for musicians that he admired. The silhouettes in the piece represent LGBTQ+ love between two men, which is a theme Haring often explored and continued to after his AIDS diagnosis in 1988, when he continued to use his art for activism and to raise awareness.

Banksy & Blur for Think Tank

Banksy is another well known artist who is not known for pursuing commercial work. For Blur’s 7th studio album released in May 2003, Banksy was commissioned to create the cover art. This was a surprise for audiences at the time since Blur was commissioning Banksy to make the cover. Banksy revealed later that he did this out of necessity and that he does in fact have to pay the bills like the rest of us. This unaltered and rough display of art that Banksy created for the album mirrors the alternative style that the band has.

Stanley Donwood & Radiohead for A Moon Shaped Pool

For their 9th studio album released in May 2016, Radiohead enlisted Stanley Donwood to create their album cover. Stanley and the band were both creating each’s artwork simultaneously. While Radiohead was in the studio, Donwood was in a separate space listening to everything they were doing so that he could hear their process and work from that as direct inspiration.

Stewart Geddes & Philip Selway for Strange Dance

Stewart Geddes and Philip Selway, Radiohead’s drummer, collaborated recently on Selway’s 3rd solo album which was released on the 24th of February. The two formed a friendship during the pandemic over lockdown when they had detailed conversations about their day-to-day life and their art. The music and the paintings were created in parallel to each other. Together, four paintings were made to celebrate this collaboration.

Canaro (top left) was the first piece that is a band portrait. Finnador (top right) is the album cover and displays two figures in conversation. Sakram and Senvoglii (bottom) are two pieces that represent the fragile hope of the album, the radiance through the gloom.

The pieces will be shown at Gallery 11, Cromwell Place, London from February 28 to March 5.

If you enjoyed reading Strange Dance then why not try Global Aroma, Italian Style.

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