Pop goes classical in album cover awards

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The Independent Culture

Classical imagery is the newest idea in album cover design, judging by the winners of this year's Best Art Vinyl award.

The winner and the third placed entry are both adaptions of well known paintings, both centuries old, while in second place there is an original work that is designed to look like an adapted classical bust.

The winners were announced after 3,000 people voted in an annual competition organised by the company Art Vinyl, which compiled a shortlist of 50 new album covers from 2008.

Newcomers Fleet Foxes, a five-member indie rock group from Seattle, took first prize for the cover of their eponymous debut album.

If the image seems familiar, it is because it is 450 years old this year. It is the central portion of Netherlandish Proverbs, painted in 1559 by the Flemish master Pieter Bruegel the Elder.

The front of Slime and Reason, the new album by the south London rapper Roots Manuva, also has a familiar look, although it is original. It is an image of the singer himself with skull opened, brain scooped out, and the cavity filled with green slime. The pose, however, appears to have been consciously modelled on classical busts.

Coldplay have used a 178-year-old painting for the cover of their album Viva La Vida, which was placed third. They reproduced Liberty Leading the People, painted by the 19th-century Romantic artist Eugene Delacroix.

Andrew Heeps, Art Vinyl's director, said: "The Best Art Vinyl award has very much celebrated the work of new emerging artists and graphic designers, so this year it has been a real surprise to see how some past artistic works have proven to be so popular."

The covers will be on display at the Rough Trade East gallery in London this month, and in other galleries across the country until 18 February.

The top 20: Old beats new

1. Fleet Foxes Fleet Foxes

2. Roots Manuva Slime & Reason

3. Coldplay Viva La Vida

4. Goldfrapp Seventh Tree

5. Elbow The Seldom Seen Kid

6. Metallica Death Magnetic

7. Bloc Party Intimacy

8. Low Motion Disco Keep It Slow

9. Santogold Santogold

10. Zombie Zombie Dog Walker

11. The Last Shadow Puppets The Age Of The Understatement

12. Alter Ego Jolly Joker Remixes

13. Black Devil Disco Club Eight O Eight

14. Underground Railroad Sticks And Stones

15. London Elektricity Syncopated City

16. Flying Lotus Los Angeles EP 2/3

17. Bon Iver For Emma, Forever Ago

18. Nancy Elizabeth Battle And Victory

19. Foals Antidotes

20. Liquid Liquid Slip In And Out Of The Phenomenon