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7 Legendary Artists Who Also Designed Album Covers

The work of Yayoi Kusama, Jeff Koons, and Ai Weiwei fetches millions at auction. Or $20 at your local record shop.

While you can’t judge a book–or album–by its cover alone, the graphics often symbolize what the author or musician has to say. Art Record Covers, a new book from Taschen, shows how the most famous artists of the last century have lent their vision to sound.

Among the unexpected names to be featured in the 500-album compendium? Josef Albers, who designed for Command Records; Basquiat, who only produced one single on his own label, Tartown; Keith Haring, whose work appears on David Bowie and Run DMC records; and the great feminist artist Barbara Kruger, who created a cover for activist group Consolidated.

To author Francesco Spampinato, part of the motivation for greats who designed record covers was the opportunity to stick up a middle finger to the art market’s commodification. In the book’s introduction, he writes:

This book presents the appealing phenomenon of art featured on record covers, characteristic of the artist’s quest for new and alter­ native forms of cultural production and distribution . . . art does not necessarily need to be experienced within the walls of museums and galleries, and that anyone could build an art collection, since many of these records can be bought cheaply in flea markets, local record stores, or online.

Jeff Koons’s work routinely nabs seven figures and broke the record for the most expensive work from a living artist with his $58-million puppy. But the Art Pop album he designed for Lady Gaga can be yours for $25 on Amazon.

Flip through the slideshow above to see some of the work in Art Record Covers, or purchase it from Taschen for $70.

About the author

Diana Budds is a New York–based writer covering design and the built environment.

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