Is it odd when an ’80s New Wave band recreates an 1860s pre-Impressionist painting? Nah. Here you will find album covers that pay homage/allude to/imitate/rip-off famous works of art and iconic photographs, from almost near replicas to stealthy appropriations of the work’s key elements to tributes to specific artists’ very definitive styles. From the White Stripes’ very De Stijl De Stijl to Joni Mitchell in Van Gogh drag to Rembrandt à la Rammstein, see fifteen of our picks here. We’re sure there are many, many more. Feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments!
Bow Wow Wow’s The Last of the Mohicans (1982) album cover, a salacious take on Edouard Manet’s salacious Le déjeuner sur l’herbe (1863). Since Annabella Lwin was a minor, the album cover is even more scandalous than the controversial original.
Depeche Mode’s New Life (1981) is like Salvador Dalí’s Geopoliticus Child Watching the Birth of the New Man (1943), but without all of that geopolitical symbolism. “Complicating, circulating, new life, new life” is complicated enough.
Joni Mitchell’s Turbulent Indigo (1994) is a redux of Vincent Van Gogh’s Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear (1889). Oh, and also, “You wanna make Van Goghs/Raise ’em up like sheep/Make ’em out of Eskimos/And women if you please/Make ’em nice and normal/Make ’em nice and neat/You see him with his shotgun there?/Bloodied in the wheat?/Oh what do you know about/Living in Turbulent Indigo?” Heavy.
Tori Amos’ Strange Little Girls (2001) project features 12 covers of songs originally performed by men — Tom Waits, Depeche Mode, the Velvet Underground, etc. The cover appropriately and quite obviously rips off Cindy Sherman. Could have dropped that info into the Wiki, Internet, ey?
By All Means Necessary (1988) was the second album from Boogie Down Productions. As suggested by the title, KRS-One’s album cover pose references a well-known Malcolm X photo as he leans out the window, armed to protect himself after his home had been firebombed.
Fleetwood Mac’s Tango In The Night (1987) is Henri Rousseau’s Charmeuse De Serpent (1907) without the lady. With sparkles.
Charming Hostess’ Eat (1998) appropriates Alexander Rodchenko’s Untitled (1923), which was used for a cover of Mayokovsky poetry, and has nothing at all to do with eating. But it was really Franz Ferdinand that took that Constructivist and Soviet propaganda stick and ran with it.
Florence and the Machine’s Lungs (2009) sees Frida Khalo’s The Two Fridas (1939), and takes wearing your organs on the outside to the next level. Accessory swag.
Factory Records’ famed record sleeve designer Peter Saville took some flack for his “literal” interpretation of Fortunato Depero’s Futurist poster from 1932 for New Order’s Movement (1981).
Heart’s Greatest Hits (1998) channels one of Rene Magritte’s greatest hits, The Therapist (1937).
Rammstein’s Liebe ist für alle da (2009) is a lot like Rembrandt’s The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp (1632), and save for the nudity and Till Lindemann’s flirtation with cannibalism with the chopping knife over there, it’s actually tamer.
Jay-Z’s The Blueprint (2001) actually started this entire search when a Flavorwire commenter pointed out that Hova jocked from Jocelyn Bain Hogg’s British gangster series, specifically Dave Courtney discusses his life of crime at the Oxford University Union .
This is the back of Cyndi Lauper’s She’s So Unusual (1983), and that’s Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night (1889) on the soles of her shoes. Uh, so cliché. And yet…want!