Home > Art, Culture, Design, Music > George Condo Explains His Kanye West Album Covers

George Condo Explains His Kanye West Album Covers

After the release of  the critically acclaimed album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.  You’ve probably been won­der­ing what’s the story behind these Kanye West album cov­ers, you aren’t alone!  Luck­ily George Condo, the man respon­si­ble sat down with New York Mag­a­zine to explain what the what is.  Most of us are famil­iar with the con­tro­ver­sial cover, which has been banned in North Amer­ica. It depicts Kanye get­ting a lap dance from a nude Phoenix, but Condo goes on to explain the other cov­ers he cre­ated.  [via]  Check out the explanation for each cover after the jump,

Head with sword

“I really like that idea of a Shake­spear­ian thing,” West told Condo about this paint­ing of a sev­ered head wear­ing a crown. The piece’s two con­trast­ing styles — “cubism and clas­si­cism forged together in a sin­gle paint­ing” — dove­tail, Condo says, with West’s music, with its “lay­ers of dif­fer­ent styles hap­pen­ing simul­ta­ne­ously.” What did Kanye see in the pic­ture that made him like it? “His tragedy was a kind of exile that Kanye imposed upon him­self,” Condo says. “He was free from exile by hav­ing the cathar­tic moment in the image. He’s alive in the paint­ing, you know what I mean? In a strange way it’s like, he opened his eyes.”
The Bal­le­rina

Condo remem­bers that West came to his stu­dio between eight and ten times over the course of the sum­mer. The bal­le­rina — a con­cept that later worked its way into West’s “Run­away” film and per­for­mance at the VMAs — came from one of those vis­its. “We were hang­ing around one night, and we were lis­ten­ing to that tune ‘Run­away,’” Condo recalls, when his wife, Anna, showed West a shot of French dancer Sylvie Guillem mov­ing in slow motion. “And some­how Kanye grabbed onto that idea of the bal­le­rina,” Condo explains. “He just said, ‘Hey man, I’d like to have a great bal­le­rina paint­ing.’ I thought of a bal­le­rina toast­ing. You know, ‘let’s toast to the scum­bags.’”

Naked Sphinx Strad­dling Kanye

“That’s a good paint­ing,” Condo says matter-of-factly. “She’s a kind of frag­ment, between a sphinx, a phoenix, a haunt­ing ghost, a harpy. And then Kanye is also in some sort of strange 1970s burned-out back room of a Chicago blues club hav­ing a beer — so far away from the real Kanye West that it’s just a scream.” In paint­ing Kanye in such an out­ra­geous sit­u­a­tion, Condo says, “I was chal­leng­ing him with the imagery as well. He said, ‘I’m shocked, but I like it, and I gotta go with my gut feel­ing.’” This cover’s already been banned by Wal-Mart and Apple’s iTunes Music Store, much to Condo’s dis­gust. “The super­im­po­si­tion of people’s per­cep­tions on a car­toon is shock­ing,” Condo scoffs. “What’s hap­pen­ing in their minds should be banned. Not the paint­ing.”
Cubist-style Por­trait of Kanye

On Kanye’s first visit to Condo’s stu­dio, he blasted “Power.” “Imme­di­ately,” Condo explains, “I started hav­ing all ideas about these mytho­log­i­cal crea­tures and vol­canic land­scapes. Parts and pieces from Mac­beth. Parts and pieces from some sort of sci-fi land­scape.” But when Condo heard the song’s hook, from King Crimson’s “21st Cen­tury Schizoid Man,” he told West he wanted to paint a por­trait. The next after­noon, West came back and posed. “It’s sort of cubist, you know, this por­trait with all these dif­fer­ent dimen­sions to it. Like an African mask with almost a mod­ern face. I wanted to get that feel­ing that he’s almost a Miles Davis-like guy.”

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