Cronenberg on Warhol

My romance with Andy Warhol’s art began when I saw the Andy Warhol exhibition at London’s Tate Gallery (now The Tate Britain) in 1971 and I bought the exhibition poster and catalogue. I’ve seen many exhibitions of Warhol’s art since. The fascinating thing about Andy Warhol’s art is that it covers so many fields. There are exhibitions of his commercial art, book illustrations, drawings, portraits, photographs films and probably other facets of his enormous production. And then – of course – there is his record cover art!

One, not so recent, exhibition “Supernova – Stars, Deaths and Disasters 1962-1964” was held at The Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada, from  8th July to 22nd October 2006. The Exhibiton was co-curated by filmmaker David Cronenberg and The Art Gallery of Ontario’s David Moos and sponsored by RBC Dexia. Cronenberg narrated commentaries to many of the works on show and the commentaries were collected on an exhibition CD entitled “Cronenberg on Warhol“, produced in a limited edition of 500 copies that was sold at the exhibition and has long been out of print. The Art Gallery of Ontario published a lavish book (A4 size) to accompany the exhibition and the sponsors produced an exhibition pack for their guests comprising the book, the CD, the exhibition programme and two complementary entry passes all enclosed in a transparent plastic case.


Last year, Kevin Kinney discovered a copy of the CD on Ebay. It has Warhol’s Double Elvis on both front and rear cover and the use of the images was authorised by The Warhol Foundation. So this has to be regarded as a bona fide Warhol cover. I needed to find one, so I contacted The Art Gallery of Ontario to try to obtain another copy, only to be told that they sold out during the exhibition. So my search began and in February I had the good luck to find someone willing to sell the sponsor’s kit, complete with the book, CD, programme, entry passes and, most importantly, the CD still sealed with its obi intact.

Because of the weight of the kit, the seller opted to ship it surface mail, so it has taken six weeks to arrive. But it is in pristine condition and a worthy addition to my collection.



A couple of interesting posters and an early catalogue

I’ve divested myself of the majority of my concert and art posters but have kept a few that I particularly like. When I sold my record and poster collection, the buyers, knowing that I collect Klaus Voormann’s record cover art promised me a signed, numbered edition of Klaus Voormann’s portrait of John Lennon. I collected it the other day.

Signed limited edition poster: An Evening with Music of John Lennon.
Signed limited edition poster: An Evening with Music of John Lennon.

It joins my signed Banana poster from 1981-2. Nationalmuseum in Stockholm presented a huge exhibition of record cover art from 27th October 1981 – 17th January 1982. This was the year before the CD was introduced so all covers were of vinyl releases. I still have the exhibition catalogue from the Nationalmuseum’s exhibition – which has the Velvet Underground & Nico LP design on its cover. The catalogue has an eight page review of Warhol’s cover art and pictures six covers (two Kenny Burrell, one Johnny Griffin, Two Rolling Stones and – the obligatory – Velvet Underground & Nico) written by Bo Nilsson. This must be the first anaytical review of Warhol’s record cover art that I ever read. Of course, only a few warhol covers were recognised in 1981, so the choice of these six is hardly surprising.

I felt that the covers in the exhibition were arranged rather haphazardly and I wrote a three-page letter to Nationalmuseum suggesting how the covers could have been better presented. I did not expect a reply, but one came by return informing me that the exhibition was moving to Umeå’s Bildmuseum and that the museum would contact me to discuss which covers should be included. They did, too! and about thirty of my covers were included in the Umeå exhibition.

Catalogue from Nationalmuseum's exhibition of record cover art.
Catalogue from Nationalmuseum’s exhibition of record cover art.
Theposter from Stockholm's Nationalmuseum's record cover art exhibition 1981-1982.
Theposter from Stockholm’s Nationalmuseum’s record cover art exhibition 1981-1982.

In 2008, as discussions about putting on the “Happy Birthday Andy Warhol” exhibition in Piteå were underway a copy of the poster for the Nationalmuseum’s record cover exhibition came up for sale. This was a one-off and beautifully signed by Andy Warhol in pencil. So it was included in the Piteå exhibition and has since then hung on my wall.

Record cover art has become business

Record covers are art and several Ebay sellers specialise in selling records with cover art by famous artists. Thus one may find covers by such diverse artists as Picasso, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Raymond Pettibon, Salvador Dali and Keith Haring to name just a few for sale. What is irritating, however, is sellers who do not do their research. Just today, I saw a Rolling Stones picture disc LP advertised as with an Andy Warhol photograph. I recognised the photo as being by David Bailey and informed the seller, who – to his eternal credit – immediately changed his advert. Other, less scrupulous sellers do not pay any attention to comments correcting their adverts. One who I particularly dislike is Majestic Music and Art. This seller not only sells records that they purport to be with Andy Warhol covers that are not, but ignore corrections. Further, they have inflated prices; charging $99 for really quite common covers (at the time of writing they are offering The Dandy Warhols “Welcome to the Monkey House” LP for the exorbitant price of $150!) I feel sorry for those punters who fall for their adverts. I have been a victim of this particular seller. I bought a promo copy of The Rolling Stones “Love You Live” and the East Village Other LPs. These arrived poorly packed and quite badly damaged. Majestic Music and Art refused to discuss a return or compensation.

A nice club to belong to

There are many people out there who are interested in, or collect, Andy Warhol’s record cover art. So many,it seems, that I think we should formally inaugurate a Warhol Record Cover Art Club.
Thanks to this blog and my list of Andy Warhol covers on I have come in contact with many experts and, surprisingly (at least to me), I have been credited with a degree of specialist knowledge on the subect.
My Andy Warhol record cover collection started in 1967 at One Stop Records in South Moulton Strreet, London when I saw the American import LP “Velvet Undergound & Nico” and bought it for the princely sum of £3.15s. I had been to the Warhol exhibition at the Tate Gallery the previous year and really liked Warhol’s art. Although My copy was an early pressing it did not have the famous “Torso” cover. A couple of years later, my brother gave me a bunch of American LPs including “White Light/White Heat”. So, suddenly I had two Andy Warhol covers. Everyone knows that one item is just an item, but TWO items makes a collection. Other records with Andy Warhol cover art followed sporadically. I bought The Rolling Stones’ “Sticky Fingers” and “Love You Live” albums when they came out and I remember finding French re-issues of Kenny Burrell and Johnny Griffin Blue Note LPs. I was given Diana Ross’ LP as a Fathers’ Day present in 1982 and in the early 2000s started to search for other Warhol covers via the Internet. I found Ebay to be a great source of information and – in those days – early Warhol covers could still be bought cheaply. I started buying and selling covers and improving my collection only collecting items in good condition. Once into buying Warhol covers, I met up with Guy Minnebach, another collector, who helped me find several rare covers from sources outside Ebay.
When planning the “Happy Birthday, Andy Warhol!” exhibition in the spring of 2008, it felt obvious to enlist Guy’s help in providing the covers that I still did not have. I will never forget his generosity in sending me several very rare covers so that thery could be photographed for the exhibition! We had never met, only been in contact over the Internet. He trusted me! In exchange, I tipped him off about an original “Giant Size $1.57 Each” being auctioned in Japan.
On the subject of the “Giant Size $1.57 Each”; I had a limited edition of 10 made for the “Happy Birthday, Andy Warhol!” exhibition. Frank Edwards, another inspirational and knowledgeable Warhol collector has one of these (as well as the exhibition catalogue – which is in Swedish!). Another collector and detective is Kevin Kinney, who finds covers in seemingly unlikely places and must have a huge collection of cover variations.
Ken Halperin, a collector of many cover artists has given enormous help in identifying cover artists other than Warhol. A new acquaintance is Fredrik Lindberg, who is relatively new to collecting Warhol covers. I hope he gets his RATFAB soon!
I would like to take this opportunity to thanks all the people who have contributed to my collection or provided information and guidance over the years. It’s a project still developing. More covers will almost certainly come to light.
So, join the club!

More Warhol covers – and some that aren’t

My copy of “The Velvet Underground & Nico 45th Annivesary DeLuxe 6CD Set” arrived yesterday and it is really exciting. It has a peelable banana on the cover and includes both the stereo and mono versions of the original album, as well as the 1966 Scepter Studios version previously released under the title “Unripened”. Added to this is a remastered version of Nico’s 1967 album “Chelsea Girl” and a Velvet Underground live recording from November 1966. But what I really found exciting was the 80 page book with historical photos from the band’s early days. Great! The book alone is worth the $70 or so that the set cost.
Warholcovers has previously commented on several covers purported to have illustrations by Warhol that have been for sale on Ebay. These are usually early Columbia Records LPs with Alex Steinweiss’ colour blocks and line drawings by various artists, most prolific of whom was probably Darrill Connelly who worked with Steinweiss at Columbia in the late forties, before Steinweiss moved on. Such titles as “Salome” and probably the “Elijah” three record set that are often put up for sale as being Warhol covers are by Connelly. I would also guess that the Debussy “French Song Recital” by Jennie Tourell and the Prokofiev/Respigi “Scythian Suite/Feste Romane” are also Connelly’s work – they definitely are not by Warhol.
The only genuine Columbia Warhol LP covers seem to be the Carlos Chavez “A Program of Mexican Music” and Prokofiev*s “Alexander Nevsky”. “The Nation’s Nightmare” – a classic Warhol cover – was released by Columbia Special Products, so qualifies as an early Columbia LP with Warhol art.
More covers are being suggested to be Warhol designs. Among the latest is The Darling Buds’ single “It’s All Up to You” released on both 7 and 12 inch vinyl with what looks like a variation of  Warhol’s “Flowers” design – but without the grassy background. There is an acknowledgement to Warhol’s Flowers on the rear sleeve. So I’d class this as heavily influenced by Andy Warhol, but not a true Warhol cover.

Three new additions to my Warhol collection

The past few days have seen several additions to my collection of Warhol covers.

I have constructed a mock-up of the “Progressive Piano” cover – the Warhol illustration that was never released, as a single 7 inch EP. However, I suspect that it was probably intended to be a double, gatefold EP, much like the Artie Shaw “Both Feet in the Groove” EP set, as there are eight titles on the cover and 7 inch EPs usually only include four tracks. I have used the standard RCA back cover. Perhaps I may get round to making a gatefold double pack one day.

Thanks to Frank “warholcovers” Edwards who tipped me off to the fact that Swedish punk band Enola Gay’s 1981 single “Döda djur / Storstad” (tranlsates to Dead animals / Big city), which uses Andy Warhol’s Bela Lugosi print on the record label and on the rear cover. So, yesterday, I went to my local purveyor, who naturally, had a mint copy in stock. Tis now is included in my collection. I was a little worried that the print was a still from a Warhol film, rather than a print. I have hitherto restricted my collection of Warhol covers to only include those that use Warhol designs, illustrations or prints and not film stills (such as those on many of The Smiths’ covers.) So the use of the Bela Lugosi print means I can include this in my collection.

Here’s a little background information on the Band Enola Gay. This Swedish punk band formed in 1978 under the name Usch. The group was heavily influenced by The Clash, The Sex Pistols and Sweden’s Ebba Grön. The released a couple of singles of which “Döda djur / Storstad” (translation: Dead Animals / Big City) which was released in 1981, under the band name Enola Gay just prior to the group disbanding.

And, today, I received my long-awaited copy of “Latin Rhythms” By Arthur Fiedler & The Boston Pops. One of the three early Warhol covers lacking in my collection. A nice, near mint copy. Here are the photos of all three additions.

Enola Gay's singlr "Döda djur". Note the Andy Warhol credit at lower left.
Enola Gay’s singlr “Döda djur”. Note the Andy Warhol credit at lower left.
Rear cover of Enola Gay's single showing detail from Warhol's "Bela Lugosi" print.
Rear cover of Enola Gay’s single showing detail from Warhol’s “Bela Lugosi” print.
My mock-up of thr unreleased "Progressive Piano" EP.
My mock-up of thr unreleased “Progressive Piano” EP.
My copy of The Boston Pops' "Latin Rhythms" EP
My copy of The Boston Pops’ “Latin Rhythms” EP

Penguin books discovered Banksy long before I did

In 1998 Nick Cave’s book “And the Ass Saw the Angel” used a photograph of a Banksy image on the cover. This was the same year that the first record cover stencilled by Banksy appeared in Bristol. My question is: ” How did Penguin Books recognise Banksy’s art so early?” – or was it Nick Cave that had the idea?

As the image appears on a book by a music icon, I will include this book in my collection of Banksy covers.

Nic Cave's book cover from 1989
Nic Cave’s book cover from 1989

Record sleeve art by artists I collect