Collaborations between the art and music worlds are nothing new. See, for example, the relationship between impressionist painting and impressionist music. Seriously: download some Debussy, then go to the Legion of Honor and stare at a Monet and you'll have a much better understanding of the relationship. The dialogue between the two worlds has been especially strong in recent years (see my KQED Pop colleague's recent Miley Abramovic post).
For some pop stars and artists, these collaborations are nothing more than an interesting footnote, but, for others, they go on to become high points in their careers and come to define both artists in that particular moment. These worlds have melded into everything from concept albums, the lost art of cover art and some of the most avant-garde stage shows and music videos of all time. Here are some of our favorite pairings from the worlds of contemporary art and pop through the years, from Mick Jagger and Kenneth Anger's "devilish" rapport during the '70s to the present day Miley Cyrus presented by Terry Richardson situation.
Bette Midler: The Divine Miss New Wave
"Disco was dead, and the body count would be high," Bette Midler said of the early 1980s music industry. Rather then get left behind in the dimming reflection of the glitter ball, the Divine Miss M, always one to embrace spectacle and big performance values, threw herself head first in the New Wave and performance art scenes that were beginning to emerge in Los Angeles at the time. The result was triple fold: a performance art television special ("The Mondo Beyondo Show" in 1982), an album ("No Frills" released in 1983), and a tour/televised concert ("De Tour" a.k.a. "Art or Bust" in 1984). The album featured New Wave-y synthesizer riffs, plenty of nouveau electronica and collaborations with Bob Dylan and Mick Jagger, which led to it becoming Midler's top selling LP in Europe. And the television special and tour feature the kind of over-the-top Memphis era stage design and conceptual performance art touches that were so of the moment and are great documents of the look and sound of the scene. Is it any wonder Midler's dive into the New Wave also coincided with her marriage to Martin von Hasleberg, a.k.a. one half of performance art duo "The Kipper Kids?"
Grace Jones: A Living Keith Haring Object
If ever there was a case of a perfectly matched artist and subject duo, Grace Jones and Keith Haring were it. Jones was made for Haring's art; she could be a grown "Radiant Baby" with her long limbs, chiseled cheek points and architectural body. Haring took advantage of the statuesque canvas by literally painting her in a few famous instances. Jones and Haring collaborated most famously on the music video for "I'm Not Perfect" (which also features an Andy Warhol cameo), where Haring's body paint was featured as well as a completely cray gown for Jones. For extra credit, see Jones dance in more Haring graffiti'd flesh in the 1986 horror film Vamp.