Don't Run For Cover

The Forgotten Art of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal

On display during VOLUMES – Independent Art Publishing Fair from November 23 until November 25, 2018 at Kunsthalle Zürich.

They appear to be from „Somewhere Far Beyond“: the original paintings that are used for LP covers usually languish in obscurity. Where otherwise the cult of originality is celebrated, audiences only know these artworks as reproductions of often questionable quality. This is a paradox condition – especially for the genre of heavy metal which is otherwise known for its love of originality and authenticity, as well as its excessive aesthetic. The diligence, with which these paintings are made, indicate that the illustrators and artists are interested in more than just the creation of cover templates.


Image: Adrian Chesterman „Bomber“ 1979; Cover for Motörhead

The presentation, drawn from a major private art collection, shows a selection of commissioned artworks for the covers of metal LPs and CDs during the 1980s and 1990s and sheds a light on the artefacts that otherwise lead a shadow existence.

The works demonstrate how metal and hard rock music value the aesthetic fusion of traditional, religiously inspired iconography with elements of comic and horror. Here, the sensational is pitted against the sophisticated and the complex; the abysmal merges with the superficiality of pop poetics. In doing so, the artworks reveal a wealth of details and peculiarities which are often lost in their reproduction. Cover art for commercially successful albums such as AC/DC’s The Razors Edge (1990), Sepultura’s Chaos A.D. (1993) or Annihilator’s Alice in Hell (1988) are on equal footing with paintings for underground albums of extreme metal, such as Cancer’s Death Shall Rise (1991) and Asphyx' Last One on Earth (1992).

Curated by Jörg Scheller for Kunsthalle Zürich

With works by Michael Whelan, Andreas Marschall, Don Brautigam, Sebastian Krüger, Joachim Luetke, Chris Achilleos, Kent Mathieu and Axel Hermann, among others.