When established artists decided to lend their talent to the music world, the creations that result from the collision of egos and imaginations are often mind blowing. From Pablo Picasso’s costumes for an avant garde ballet by Erik Satie to Andy Warhol’s management of the Velvet Underground, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite artist and musician collaborations. How did Salvador Dalí and Alice Cooper meet? How did the world survive? Read on to find out and drop us a comment if you think we missed any biggies.
Salvador Dalí and Alice Cooper
So, a surrealist and a shock-rocker walk into a bar… By the time Salvador Dalí and Alice Cooper met elaborately on February 25, 1973, they were longtime mutual fans. Upon their meeting, Dalí presented Alice with a plaster brain covered in chocolate and ants. For two weeks, they worked together, producing the First Cylindric Chromo-Hologram of Alice Cooper’s Brain — now a museum piece, it’s the world’s first moving hologram of Alice donning millions of dollars in diamond bling (necklaces, tiara, the works) and biting the head of a Venus de Milo statue. You know, the usual.
Andy Warhol and Velvet Underground
If we’re forced to pick one phenomenon of Andy Warhol’s management of the Velvet Underground that really stands out in cultural memory… hmm… Hint: She takes trimming her bangs very seriously. Upon Warhol’s insistence, German fashion model turned haunting songstress Nico guested on the group’s line-up. Not to undercut the musical relevance of Lou Reed and John Cale, but Warhol did wonders for the Velvet Underground’s presentation and really gave the Factory house band that extra kick into the direction of eventual esteem.
Pablo Picasso and Erik Satie
Minimalism champ and 20th Parisian avant-gardist Erik Satie composed his first ballet score for Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets russes, with writing by Jean Cocteau, choreography by Léonide Massine and costumes by Pablo Picasso. The scandalous Parade premiered in war-time 1917. There were noise-makers, foghorns, and typewriters. There was a scandal and a classical music riot. There was that one time Satie called an un-pleased critic “an arse,” was sued, and Cocteau was arrested and beaten by police for yelling “arse” over and over in the courtroom. Don’t get distracted though. Check out Picasso’s costumes. Many of these constructions were made from solid cardboard allowing for… let’s say “minimal” movement.
Jean-Michel Basquiat and Rammellzee
It started with rapper/graffiti artist Rammellzee dissing NYC’s art world champ/graffiti artist Basquiat as fraud. Basquiat asserted that he could “out paint, out dance and out rap anybody.” Thus, the tension was funneled into the collaborative, experimental, classic “Beat Bop” single, with Rammellzee and K-Rob on vocals and Basquiat credited with production (although Rammellzee insists that all Basquiat did on the track was front the bill for the recording. Ka-Pow!). Basquiat also created the record’s artwork and the cover and spelled Rammellzee’s name incorrectly, sans one “l.” Ka-Pow-Pow! Well, it was born of beef…
Bill Viola and Nine Inch Nails
Anyone who’s actually experienced the Nine Inch Nails x Bill Viola collaboration during the band’s 2000 tour talks quite positively of it with many fond hand gestures, whether or not they still listen to The Downward Spiral. (Fess up. We won’t judge.) The video artist’s triptych of panels fell, rose, emitted water imagery, projected backwards-diving silhouettes in slow motion, and otherwise enchanted the audience as a video suite created specifically for the dark and scintillating set.
Takashi Murakami and Kanye West
In 2007, Takashi Murakami, master of the superflat, collaborated with rap star ‘Ye on his cover for Graduation, and the music video for “Good Morning.” The result — an anime-stylized, mind-warping cartoon adventure — allowed Murakami to penetrate the non-art world mainstream, but we think West won more by the association. He got himself into a museum and had himself transformed into a loveable, psychedelic bear-thing. Aw.
Marina Abramović and Antony Hegarty
It’s a good thing that performance art diva Marina Abramović and musician Antony Hegarty of Antony and the Johnsons met each other (through Björk and Matthew Barney, appropriately.) Antony’s un-genre-fiable sound and persona was made for art and Marina couldn’t be more fond of him. She’s officially willed that he sing at her funeral. The two took the stage together in the Robert Wilson-directed opera The Life and Death of Marina Abramović in Manchester. No, she couldn’t wait until her funeral.
FUTURA and U.N.K.L.E.
The collaboration between British musical outfit U.N.K.L.E. and legendary graffiti artist FUTURA still goes on, in a way. FUTURA’s Pointmen characters (U.N.K.L.E. avatars?) complimenting the Psyence Ficton and Never Never Land albums inspired this robot by animatronics designer and director John Nolan. The video result was exhibited at U.N.K.L.E’s multi-talented James Lavelle’s art show at the Haunch of Venison gallery and just goes to show that apocalyptic mad-eyed robot-men go incredibly well with post, post trip-hop. Credit is forever owed to FUTURA for creating this ominous, mechanical gent.
Eiko Ishioka and Björk
Is Björk still reigning as the artiest musician? Discuss. While you do, here’s her video for “Cocoon” made with Japan’s leading art director and Oscar-winning costume designer Eiko Ishioka, not aired by MTV because of the very explicit, very naked-looking, very close-fitting bodysuit that’s about to start sprouting surreal red string. Why did we pick this one? Because we’ve already talked about Björk’s collaboration with artist/partner Matthew Barney and with artist/hair engineer Hrafnhildur “Shoplifter” Arnardóttir. What were you saying about Björk’s artiness?
Stanley Donwood and Radiohead
Can you imagine Radiohead without Stanley Donwood? Without the album art, the newspaper, the tattoo-inspiring bears, the whole worshipped Donwood oeuvre? Yeah, sure. It’s just not the same. Not the same at all.