Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Album covers by artists: Ed Ruscha

This time last year composer/arranger Van Dyke Parks began releasing a series of 7" vinyl records (his first solo material in over a decade) which were never intended to be released on CD or later compiled together in any way. Each comes with an artist-designed cover, including images by Charles Ray, Art Spiegelman and Klaus Voorman (who designed the Beatles' Revolver LP and, many years later, the Anthology series).

The first 45 is Dreaming of Paris, which features a cover design by Ed Ruscha. Below is an excerpt from Interview magazine, about the "collaboration".

Read the full interview here.

PARKS: Oh, it's phenomenal to me that these artists have given me their works. I haven't paid a damn dime. I told them in a letter, "I can't give you a red cent." What do you say to somebody like Ed Ruscha, who's had one piece sell for over $100 million? What can you give the man? All I know is that we run in a parallel universe and I wanted to somehow recognize that. You see, when I went into popular music it was still popular, but it went Pop when Andy Warhol came out with the Campbell's soup can. Rauschenberg and Lichtenstein, these artists found a way of expressing the irreducible minimum, and music was touched by that world.

SLENSKE: What can you tell me about the Ed Ruscha collaboration?

PARKS: I didn't "collaborate" with Ed Ruscha. I asked each artist to allude visually to the lyrical work within, by letting me use a previously done piece, or devise something new. Ed got "Dreaming of Paris," and tossed in a colored-pencil drawing "Paris", that he'd done in '63. I sense he felt he'd treated me dismissively, for the next day, I got an additional sketch proposal for further elaboration, with the question "Van Dyke—what think?". I used it for the back jacket of "Dreaming of Paris."

SLENSKE: Did you know him from the Los Angeles scene?

PARKS: I had met Ed many years ago, when he was fresh out of Chouinard Art Institue in '63.

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