27 December 2012

Post-punk counterpoint

Henri Fantin-Latour: A Basket of Roses, oil on canvas (1890)

The canvases of M. Fantin-Latour do not assault your eyes, do not leap at you from the walls. They must be looked at for a length of time in order to penetrate them, and their conscientiousness, their simple truth — you take these in entirely, and then you return.
– Émile Zola (1880)

Power, Corruption and Lies is the second studio album by New Order, released in 1983. The cover is a cropped reproduction of the painting A Basket of Roses by French realist artist Henri Fantin-Latour.

Portrait of Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) by Santi di Tito

The art director Peter Saville had originally planned to use a Renaissance portrait of a dark prince to tie in with the Machiavellian theme of the title, but couldn't find a suitable portrait.

Peter Saville saw and liked a postcard with the Fantin-Latour's painting. His girlfriend mockingly asked him if he was going to use it for the cover.

The art director then realized it was a great idea. Peter Saville intended to create a collision between the overly romantic and classic image which made a stark contrast to the typography based on the modular, color-coded alphabet that spells out the catalogue number (Fact 75) of the album [upper right corner].

Peter Saville and New Order’s color code

Distortionned Power, Corruption and Lies by Paul Havell (2010)

Some distortion given to the original Fantin-Latour painting to give it a more modern style. The color-coded title is still here, but placed flat against the top to give the cover some more space.

Michael Zahn: Power, Corruption and Lies, acrylic on canvas (2008)

Power, Corruption and Lies by Michael Zahn takes as its reference a jpeg found on the internet. The painting is a low-resolution copy of the New Order LP sleeve of the same name, which in turn is derived from a floral still life by Henri Fantin-Latour.

Oh, our love is like the flowers
The rain, the sea and the hours.

– New Order, The Village (3rd song)

Martin Boyce: Our love is like the flowers, the rain, the sea and the hours, installation (2003)

In the installation Our love is like the flowers, the rain, the sea and the hours, the Scottish sculptor Martin Boyce uses common elements from public gardens (trees, benches, trash bins) in a game which describes at once a social space and an abstract dream space. The trees, unique sources of light in the exhibition space, produce their own environment.

The album cover for Power, Corruption and Lies was among the 10 chosen by the Royal Mail for a set of Classic Album Cover postage stamps issued in January 2010.

December 27th: happy holidays, birthday, snowstorm, etc!