Sunday, November 23, 2008

Too Bad He Never Got the Chance to Do One for the Soup Dragons


I was reminded over the weekend that the cover art for Billy Squier's 1982 album Emotions in Motion (great title, eh?) was done by none other than Andy Warhol. This was at the suggestion of Billy himself, who obviously recognized how nice it was that one of America's most important artists was always willing to do anything for a buck.

I don't know how much the label paid for the cover art, but Billy bought the two originals - one for the front cover and a slightly different one for the back cover - directly from Warhol for $40,000 apiece. It's hard to believe, but Billy was really very savvy about money. Despite the fact that his time as a star lasted about two years, Billy parlayed that into an apartment in New York's fabled San Remo building on Central Park West, where Bono also lives. A Warhol portrait of Conrad Black sold earlier this year for 185,000 pounds, which is about $280,000 - and who wants a picture of Conrad Black? Wouldn't you rather have a picture of Billy Squier?

Warhol was pretty busy with album covers during the 1980s. He did Love You Live for the Rolling Stones, Silk Electric for Diana Ross and Koo Koo for Debbie Harry, among others. Most of those looked to me more like Andy Warhol knockoffs than works of art by the great man himself, but what do I know?

5 comments:

Joe said...

Lots of Warhols are in fact Andy Warhol knockoffs, Warhol having pioneered the idea of the artist as factory boss, with assistants making the silk screens from his directions. Hell, he had assistants do the paintings, even. That said, the cover of "Love You Live" looks like pretty prime Warhol. So does the Billy Squier, though the same technique applied to photos of Mick Jagger and Billy Squier yields radically different results, which is kind of the point.

Fact checking note: "Love You Live" came out in 1977.

Anonymous said...

The "Love You Live" cover is one of the ugliest things I've ever seen.

On an unrelated note, Guy Peellaert, who painted the cover of "It's Only Rock n' Roll," recently died.

T. Nawrocki said...

Peellaert also did Bowie's "Diamond Dogs" cover.

Joe's comment elicits a whole new discussion on the authorship of works of art, a discussion for which OPC is woefully underqualified. If the artist is supervising the craftsmen who are executing the piece, but never touches the piece himself, is he still the artist? Probably, in the same since that we still consider Hitchcock the artist behind "Notorious," though he probably never touched the camera and doesn't appear onscreen in any meaningful fashion. It's still his vision up there on the screen.

Mark Lerner said...

The cover to Koo Koo is by H.R. Giger, not Andy Warhol.

The "background" (very little background is actually visible) of the cover of Rockbird is by Warhol (the cover is "by" Stephen Sprouse, which I guess means he styled it). Yes, I own all of the Debbie Harry solo albums, why do you ask?

Kinky Paprika said...

Warhol also did the cover to John Cale's "Honi Soit."