Pop Art: 13 Awesome Artist-Musician Collaborations

Lady Gaga Jeff Koons Sculpture
Lady Gaga Jeff Koons Sculpture

Over the past few months, the realms of music and high art have collided in far-out, headline-grabbing ways. On Sunday night (Nov. 10), Lady Gaga hosted her artRave record-release party in New York and unveiled a lifelike sculpture by renowned modern artist Jeff Koons, a piece similar to the Koons-created work that adorns the cover of her “Artpop” album. But the art-meets-music pairing is nothing new, as talented visual artists have been tapped to work with chart-topping musicians for decades. Check out our list of 13 amazing moments in true art-pop.

Jeff Koons Makes a Sculpture for Lady Gaga's "ARTPOP" Album

Lady Gaga got Jeff Koons to handle artwork for her “Artpop” album. The sculptor made a sculpture of a naked Mother Monster, possibly giving birth to a new world. She took to Twitter in October to express her excitement.

Jean-Michel Basquiat Draws Album Art for Rammellzee and K-Rob

Acclaimed painter and graffiti artist Jean-Michel Basquiat handled the single art for Rammellzee and K-Rob’s 1983 battle rap cut “Beat Bop.” The drawing is classic basquiat, with a sketch of a man and labeling the most important body parts of a rhymer on the vinyl itself: ears, mouth, lungs, and guts. On the cover there’s his trademark crown

Marina Abramović Inspires JAY Z's “Picasso Baby” Six-Hour Performance Art, Then Lady Gaga Joins Her to Practice Ways

In July at New York City’s Pace Gallery JAY Z taped quite an unconventional music video for his “Magna Carta… Holy Grail” single “Picasso Baby.” Based on Serbian performance artist Marina Abramović’s 2010 installation "The Artist Is Present,” Hov, performed the song (which shouts out elite artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat, George Condo and more) for six hours to a full audience as Mark Romanek-directed cameras rolled. Abramović herself attended the affair, leading to an intense face-to-face encounter where she and JAY’s forehead met for a bit of a dance.

In August Lady Gaga teamed with Abramovic for a tutorial/testimonial video where the singer chants, stands in a river, sits in a field and cups a giant crystal—naked.

The tasks Gaga exemplifies are based on Abramović’s "Abramovic Method" of exercise, which her website says will "heighten the participants’ awareness of their physical and mental experience in the present moment."

The clip also doubled as an advertisement for Abramovic’s Kickstarter campaign, whose cause was to draw awareness for a fundraiser for her Marina Abramovic Institute. The forthcoming school hopes to function as an “Interdisciplinary performance and education center, home to long durational work and the Abramovic Method.”

Radiohead Works With Stanley Donwood on Iconic Album Covers

Wondering how Radiohead came up with that white landscape for "Kid A," the CPR mannequin for "The Bends" or the crying Minotaur for "Amnesiac"? Look no further than British artist Stanley Donwood, who met frontman Thom Yorke at university and has been creating all of the band's artwork since 1995. In 2006, Donwood exhibited the original artworks at a gallery in Barcelona.

Bjork, Scott Snibbe Bring 'Biophilia' App To Life

Before the "ARTPOP" app and even before Jay Z's "Magna Carta Holy Grail" Samsung device, Bjork collaborated with acclaimed interactive media artist Scott Snibbe to release her eighth studio album, 2011's "Biophilia," as a multimedia app. Snibbe, best known for creating iOS apps like "Bubble Harp" and "Gravilux," helped the avant-garde siren turn "Biophilia" into a series of games, music instruments and awe-inspiring works of art.

Nine Inch Nails Teams With Bill Viola For Tour

Renowned video artist Bill Viola gave Trent Reznor's industrial outfit an assist on its 2000 tour, which featured a triptych of panels that constantly changed in pattern. Viola's work was captivating whether the band was tearing through "Head Like a Hole" or calming down for "Hurt."

Page 2: Kanye West, Grace Jones, The Velvet Underground and more

Kanye West Taps Japanese Contemporary Artist Takashi Murakami for “Graduation” Album

Kanye West asked Takashi Murakami to handle his third album “Graduation,” which wrapped his school-themed trilogy. The artwork features West’s oft-used dropout bear leaving fictional college Universe City.

The pairing also led to Murakami making a video for the album’s opening track, “Good Morning.” The stylized cartoon clip shows West’s bear earning his “Bachelor of Hip-Hop” degree, then hopping in his car to change the future.

Kanye West’s Marco Brambilla-Directed “Power” Video

The brief video for “Power,” the lead single for West’s 2010 album “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” album, was handled by installation artist Marco Brambilla. The baroque, moving art clip finds West as leading of a falling kingdom. By the time the 90-second clip wraps, Kanye is on the verge of being decapitated by two incoming flying swordsmen.

In addition, West called upon portrait artist George Condo for the artwork for "Twisted Fantasy.” Condo created five images for the 2010 set—the most controversial being a furry man beast holding a bottle being straddled by a winged woman. It was banned by music stores, replaced mostly by a picture of a ballerina. 

Andy Warhol Manages Velvet Underground

In the mid ‘60s, leader of the pop artist movement Andy Warhol doubled as manager for rock band The Velvet Underground. The pairing birthed “Exploding Plastic Inevitable" in his Factory enterprises, a series of shows that featured performances from the band and viewings of Warhol-shot films touring the U.S.The partnership was groundbreaking, melding music with art and contemporary marketing.

By that time Warhol’s art was already a staple in the music world, especially in jazz. In 1954, he handled cover art for Thelonious Monk’s “Monk” and continued on with the likes of Count Basie.

And after his stint with Revolver, Warhol crafted one of his most popular album covers for The Rolling Stones’ subtle, yet racy “Sticky Fingers"--featuring a tightly denimed crotch shot. Many assumed (or hoped) the picture was of Stones lead Mick Jagger, but instead, it is of an unnamed male model.

Keith Haring Paints on Grace Jones

Artist Keith Haring painted on singer/model Grace Jones with his classic mazey designs for her “I'm Not Perfect (But I'm Perfect For You)” video in 1986. Andy Warhol also makes an appearance in the clip, calling Jones “perfect.”

Richard Kern Directs Sonic Youth Video

In 1985, photographer and director Richard Kern (with singer Lydia Lunch) co-directed Sonic Youth's first music video, "Death Valley '69." The band is known for constantly infusing art into their work in some fashion.

Years prior to their Kern collab, band member Kim Gordon got her first show as an artist herself in 1981. Called “Design Office,” the exhibit was a part of Noise Fest, a nine-day of experimental music exhibit at New York City’s White Columns gallery.

Graffiti Elites (Basquiat and more) Join Blondie in "Rapture" Video

The video for Blondie’s pseudo rap jam “Rapture” in 1981 not on shouts out Fab 5 Freddy, but it also features fellow graffitists Lee Quinones and icon Jean-Michel Basquiat.