Book Review: A Collection of the Mythical and Surreal Legacy of Painter, Paul Whitehead
How many times have we all reminisced about great record album imagery? The great artists and designers of past eras, like Mark Ryden, Storm Thorgerson or Pedro Bell, transcended the music to new levels of appreciation, providing a pictorial universe for all the sounds to exist. Paul Whitehead, the great British painter, is one of the titans of the album cover, transforming the early years of Genesis with surreal, mythical visuals for some of their most experimental albums. Finally, the Brit’s work is being collected in the new book, Paul Whitehead, a comprehensive look at his early forays into music and album cover art, as well as in-depth examinations of his various series' and long-standing relationship with Genesis.
Paul Whitehead is also a fascinating look at the “genesis” of pop surrealism. From rolling billboards, those harbingers of street art, to his esteemed recognition for producing what was the largest mural in the Guiness Book of World Records at the time, to counter-culture exhibitions that thrived outside of the traditional art establishment in the 1970s and 80s, Whitehead was at the forefront of many cultural inspirations within the pages of Juxtapoz. Like Robert Williams, Whitehead loves a potent, visual pun, layering artistic genres and folklore into one work. From Genesis' Nursery Cryme cover to his creative doppelganger, Trisha van Cleef, Whitehead is a storytelling painter. While his most famed works are attached to the internationally known band, this new monograph reminds us that Whitehead has a dense, wide-ranging career in painting, and belongs in that echelon of 1960’s painters who saw creative possibilities beyond canvas, in non-traditional means such as the album cover, shaping a 21st Century blueprint for young artists today.