Andy Warhol’s talent extended well past visual art and film and found its way into the world of music. His trademark pop art has existed in many aspects of popular culture, but did you know the artist had a hand in creating a lot of the legendary album art that is still instantly recognizable today?
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Here are 10 iconic album covers designed by Warhol, who passed away on this day in 1987.
1. Billy Squier – Emotions in Motion
Billy Squier’s 1982 album, Emotions in Motion, features the artistic touch of Warhol. In the artist’s pop art style, the cover depicts the rocker with a Mona Lisa gaze, awash in color blocks of red, peach, yellow, and blue, his hair wild with colorful scribbles.
2. Liza Minnelli – Live At Carnegie Hall
A more simplistic cover, Warhol still adds his flair to the album art of Liza Minnelli’s 1981 release, Live At Carnegie Hall. The singer’s likeness is doodled against a pale background. The depiction of her isn’t showy, but perfectly showcases her classic haircut and striking eyes.
3. John Cale – The Academy in Peril
John Cale’s second solo album, The Academy in Peril, features another side of Warhol’s artistic expertise, photography. Kodachrome negatives of Cale and closeups of his eyes litter the album’s cover for a haunting exhibition against a stark white background.
4. Thelonious Monk – Monk
Before he skyrocketed into pop culture as the iconoclastic artist he’s still considered today, Warhol worked as a graphic designer and conceptualized many early jazz album covers. His work has donned the discography of Count Basie, Kenny Burrell, and Artie Shaw. But none are quite as iconic as the work he did for Thelonious Monk’s Monk. The cover of the 1956 album is simple but effective – M-O-N-K is boldly emblazoned on the sleeve and surrounded by a whimsical script.
5. Aretha Franklin – Aretha
Much like the aforementioned Squire cover, the album art for Aretha Franklin’s 1986 release, Aretha, depicts the songstress in striking pop art, her hair color-blocked in shades of pink, blue, and yellow. Warhol accentuated the shape of her face and drew attention to her eyes and mouth, coloring them in exaggerated purples and reds. This would be one of Warhol’s last works before his passing in 1987.
6. Paul Anka – The Painter
Paul Anka’s 1976 release The Painter is much the same, having been blocked off in muddied shades of red, blue, purple, and green. The color black dominates the majority of the singer’s likeness, making the pops of color radiate from the album’s cover.
7. Diana Ross – Silk Electric
Another simple, yet striking album cover, Diana Ross’s 1982 record, Silk Electric, features more of Warhol’s pop art style. Her portrait is starkly placed against a pink backdrop, her piercing eyes mirroring the background’s rosy tone. On the cover, the rest of her features aren’t given a great definition, allowing her eyes to dominate the image.
8. John Lennon – Menlove Ave
Warhol’s portrait of John Lennon appears on the cover of his 1986 posthumously released compilation album, Menlove Ave. In his trademark pop style, Warhol washes the late singer in an orangey tone, accentuating his dissolved hair with flashes of blue, pieces of white, and tinges of purple, red, and yellow. The image is compelling against a bleak, black background.
9. The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers
Warhol was the artist behind the iconic artwork for the Rolling Stones’ 1971 album, Sticky Fingers. The cover is a black-and-white closeup of a man in tight jeans. The artist photographed the denim-adorned nether region and crafted the original sleeve in a way that a working zip opened to reveal underwear fabric.
Warhol also created the cover of the album’s lead EP which included the tracks “Brown Sugar,” “Bitch,” and “Let It Rock.” He would later design the artwork for the band’s 1977 live album, Love You Live, which features a sketched Mick Jagger biting a hand.
10. The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground & Nico
Probably his most legendary album cover is The Velvet Underground’s The Velvet Underground & Nico. Featuring only the classic Warhol overripe banana against a crisp white background, the album, like his inescapable Campbell’s soup cans, has become the artist’s calling card in a way.
Warhol actually managed The Velvet Underground for a time and had a hand in producing this album.
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