My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy: George Condo

Curator: Timothy Goodman
date: July 28, 2011
Categories: Brand & Identity Systems Design
Tags:
From iTunes

Kanye West. There, I just have to say his name and most of you will have some sort of immediate reaction or repulsion. Many love him, and many more hate him—but let's not talk about his music or his public behavior. Instead, let's discuss his uncanny ability to hire some of the best artists to help redefine the identity surrounding his music.


In the last year he has literally defied every law that states what hip-hop, or any genre of music, should look like. For his apocalyptic Power video, he tapped Italian filmmaker Marco Brambilla, who did the incredible film installation Civilization, which is a permanent installation at the Standard Hotel in New York. Just under two minutes, the video is literally a moving painting. And the art direction for his 30-minute short film Runaway was done by Vanessa Beecroft, an Italian artist who has exhibited all around the world, including at the Guggenheim, New York. The film has too many metaphors and is overly pretentious—but it is also utterly gorgeous.


For Kanye's latest album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, George Condo painted five different album covers, all available upon purchase. Among traditional living artists, Condo is currently one of the most embraced. His work has been included in exhibitions at the Whitney, Museum, New York; the MoMA, New York; the Guggenheim, New York; and a recent show at The New Museum this past year.


The key art, which shows West being straddled by an armless winged female, was rejected by many retailers, including Walmart and Apple's iTunes Music Store. The work is filled with subjects related to the baroque era, ancient mythology, and religious symbolism. It's demented, provocative, and undoubtedly represents the debauchery of aristocracy. And if you've heard the album, nothing could be more appropriate.


These album covers, alone, are essentially just art pieces—but they were created and packaged as mass communication. They are the identity for global merchandise, regardless of the medium or lack of typography. It's graphic design, by association, and I'm completely envious of that.


From Vulture
© George Condo

From Vulture
© George Condo

From Vulture
© George Condo

From Vulture
© George Condo

From Vulture
© George Condo



  • Anna

    What he’s doing for is underrated and ignored by a lot of people who are too blinded by their personal opinions of Kanye West. He’s bringing a lot of beautiful things to the masses, and specifically to hip-hop culture. He’s introducing different groups of people to each other. He’s stated this goal of his in numerous interviews. 

    Aside from just Condo’s paintings, the entire packaging of the album is awesome. The fold out aspect, the interchanging pictures, the hand drawn typography. 

  • http://twitter.com/pdctweet Project Design Co.

    I have squinted at that 81 pixel art on my rdio probably hundreds of times, coming pretty close to imagining something that does allude to the original cover’s content. Alas, there were no wings, no fangs, no emotion in my interpretation. 

    What occurs to me now is that I took that pixelated image as the original cover. I was satisfied that these pixels were hiding his fantasy from us, that we were left to view this fantasy only cursory, and that we had to create our own fantasy of what his fantasy would be. I honestly was thinking this was an interesting design.

    With the blinders gone, It is like looking at this anew. Seeing the painting in all its gore and glory, I see deeper into Kanye the artist. The music grows less on you than IN you, as does Kanye the artist.

    While I still like my tiny, censored album cover art, your post enlightened me and  makes me question the thought process behind the censorship. A deeply thoughtful painting depicting the self-loathing lifestyle of being a famous rapper is censored, yet these companies are willing to take money for the sometimes shocking verbal content inside. I guess everything has it’s price? I’m actually interested in buying the CD package now, to experience Kanye’s full intent.

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