Monday 18 January 2010

Love is for all

This weekend, thanks to Christmas extra work and post Christmas sales, I finally bought the latest Rammstein double album (Liebe ist fuer alle da: Love is for all. Universal). You might call it my belated and unlikely Christmas present.

And my use of the word "unlikely" is deliberate. There are few things less Christmassy than a Rammstein album and this one is no exception.

In many ways, this appears to be a typical Rammstein production; in a few others, it seems to me, is rather particular and more extreme. Give me some time to go through the lyrics, though, as my German is limited, and Rammstein lyrics are notoriously complex, containing unexpected literary references, and idiomatic word games.

But today I want to talk about what for me, so far, is the most immediately striking feature of the album: its cover art, by the Spanish photographer Eugenio Recuenco.

Recuenco's work has been described as pictorial. It certainly deserves that description. In Liebe ist fuer alle da, Recuenco's photography evocates early XVII century Dutch/Flemish painting: dark backgrounds; detailed physical and physiognomic details, as if illuminated by a light unable to pierce the surrounding darkness; a mainly black, ocher, and yellow color palette.

Young Woman in Imaginary Costume, by Salomon de Bray.
Johanes Lutma, portrait, and
Venus and Adonis, by Jacob Adriaensz Backer.

Observe the earnest expressions in these portraits: this is the aspect where Recuenco's work diverges from the Dutch painters.

Recuenco's cannot hide Spanish Romantic influences, specifically Goya: his still life paintings and especially, in his later years, the Black Paintings.

Sometimes I have been tempted to describe musical projects like Rammstein, Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson as a contemporary Dada of horror. I feel this description may not be enough.

After this preamble, I confess Recuenco's work -however obviously artistic, valuable and carefully executed- is not for everyone as it is indeed disturbing and macabre, even by Rammstein's standards.

You have been warned: cover art for Liebe ist fuer alle da (5th and 6th rows of thumbnails) by Eugenio Recuenco.

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