The Art of the Album Cover

Today I spent some of my lunch break – as I often do – perusing arts journals and culture news, and came across a reaction to the cover art for the Yeah Yeah Yeah's new album Mosquito. The album is available to pre-order, and with it: the art work. Designed by Beomsik Shimbe Shim, it has widely been described as a 'bad' and 'horrendous' example of album art. But can there actually be 'bad' album design? The design is (at least traditionally, and I hope it is considered to remain) an integral ingredient in the perception of the music – just as artists' fashion, settings and props in performance are. It is the choice of the musicians how ironic or sentimental or simple or sensational (etc, forever) they want their art to be. Surely? We have yet to hear the album, but I am sure there is reason behind the Yeah Yeah Yeah's choice: if not reason, pure ART. (Remember, art doesn't equal universal taste).

Synchronicity of music and visual art is usually considered in the context of the avant garde; in intellectual forms such as Fluxus that combine the two. But when popular music came to eminence it was in album covers that we saw the relationship presented explicitly: now in an accessible and prolific form. The history of music and art through album covers is an interesting – and inevitably – colourful one. Cover designs encapsulate political movements, trending controversies, turbulent relationships between individuals and morality campaigns – all of this along with some desiring to seem banal.

Velvet Underground, Velvet Underground and Nico | Andy Warhol, 1967
Patti Smith, Wave | Robert Mapplethorpe, 1979
Nirvana, Nevermind | Robert Fischer, 1991
David Bowie, Alladin Sane | Maurizio Vetrugno, 2003
The Beetles, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band | Peter Blake, 1967
Fleetwood Mac, Rumours | Herbert Worthington, 1977
Van Halen, MCMLXXXIV (1984) | Margo Nahas, 1984

King Crimson, In the Court of the Crimson King | Barry Godber, 1969
Pink Floyd, The Dark Side of the Moon | George Hardie, 1973

The Stokes, Is This Is | Colin, 2001
Red Hot Chili Peppers, By The Way | Julian Schnabel, 2002 
Two Door Cinema Club, Beacon | Damien Ropero, 2012
The Clash, London Calling | Pennie Smith, 1979 
The Vaccines, What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? | Jonay Matos, 2011

Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Mosquito | Beomsik Shimbe Shim, 2013


  1. Oh the Fleetwood Mac one is truly marvellous! Divine. This is such an interesting post as always, Rosie. x

    1. Thanks – it's nice to hear that you are enjoying reading (and looking)! I await the day you capture your own part of the internet to join the blogging sphere Miss Metcalfe.


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