By Cate the Great
I have a personal vendetta against those in the Art History field when it comes to teaching about the Romantic Period. Artists from the UK and Germany are spotlighted, while the Scandinavian artists don’t get any cred, despite their work being just as fantastical. It’s just “not in vogue” to teach them right now (welcome to the art world, folks…) It’s been my experience that Munch is pretty much the only Norwegian really highlighted.
Anyway, the Romantic period dominated the art, written, musical, and philosophical scenes of the late 18th century as a counter-reaction against The Enlightenment – the Romanticists placed more emphasis on emotion rather than stoic logic. As can be expected, Romantic paintings feature epic (in the true sense of the word) scenes of nature and myth, all while giving the finger to their Neoclassic contemporaries.
Bathory’s Blood Fire Death’s cover was done my Norwegian Romantic painter Peter Nicolai Arbo. Titled Åsgårdsreien, 1872, it’s a stunning depiction of Oskerei legend. Their Hammerheart album featured a section of Funeral for a Viking, 1893, by Sir. Frank Dicksee, another Romantic painter from England who also painted legendary scenes.
One of my favorite artists of all time, H.R. Giger’s work is recognizable by many but identified by few. Giger’s works feature biomechanical forms and sexual imagery, and have influenced many horror, tattoo, and fantasy artists. In traditional Surrealist fashion, Giger’s work also deals with dreams and sleep disorders. Most of his notable paintings were created with an air-brushing technique.
The designer of the xenomorph (see: Necronom IV, 1976) as well as some pretty awesome sculptures and furniture, Giger has an arsenal of album art under his Swiss belt, not to mention an Oscar. As well as the covers for Celtic Frost’s To Mega Therion and Carcass’ Heartwork, Giger has done covers for Sancrosanct, Debbie Harry, Pankow, Atrocity, and Danzig. His air-brushed painting Landscape XX, 1973, was used for the Dead Kennedy’s album Frankenchrist and subsequently led to a criminal trial over obscenity. Google it and perhaps you’ll see why.
Period: American Photography/Shock/”Degenerate” Art
Yea so, we’re not going to talk about Metallica themselves, but I will note that I consider these covers are more brutal than the music they grace.
Serrano directed the Godflesh’s video for “Crush My Soul” and his two of his photographs were used for Metallica’s Load and Reload albums. Load features the photograph Blood and Semen III, and Reload features Piss and Blood.
Period: Comic art/Mixed Media
If you’ve ever picked up an issue of Sandman, or a general fan of Neil Gaiman’s work (which I’m sure some of you are), than you are no stranger to Dave McKean’s haunting multi-media work. McKean utilizes a mixture of photography, found art, collage and other mediums to create his illustrations, and had collaborated with Gaiman on numerous occasions. He’s done covers for My Dying Bride, Fear Factory, and Dream Theater.
Artist: Hieronymus Bosch
Period: Northern Renaissance/Early Flemish
Ok, so it’s not like the guys went to Hieronymus Bosch to ask him to do the cover of Deep Purple (1978), since about 400 years and a few furlongs separated them from each other, but I’m including this album because it was in a sense a collaboration of pioneers. Deep Purple are considered (by some) to be the definite precursors to modern metal, while Bosch is credited as an extraordinarily early Surrealist (he at least had a heavy influence on the latter movement).
Period: 19th Century French Academic
BOOM! Out of nowhere Mr. Vikernes hits us with this cover – a snippet from Bouguereau’s painting Elegy, 1899. Bouguereau’s body of work contains mostly pastel portraits of naked ladies and cherubs, a stark difference from the frost-bitten landscapes Mr. Vikernes usually gives us. I was just as suprised as everyone else when this cover surfaced. For those of you out of the loop, the album was relesed March 7th.
Till later (and possibly a graduate level course)
-Cate the Great