Modern Art Meets Modern Metal

Okay, this will be a bit experimental and personal.

I have become increasingly aware of a matching in my mind between some of my favorite bands and painters. I’ve noticed that the matchings are made – unconsciously – according to several features. The most obvious to me were visual structures, colors and textures of the paintings on one side; and musical structures and sound (equivalent to texture) on the other. This of course reflects a matching between some ideas/ideologies behind the visual and musical artworks as well as the personalities of the artists – even the way the musicians perform, in some cases. (I won’t deny a small influence of the visual identities of the bands, and their lyrics; I’m not really a lyrics person.)

After I became aware of a few unconscious associations, I went on to add a few more to the series. I tried to restrict my choices to metal bands, partly because those are the ones I am most familiar with, and partly because I thought that this would be a fresh thing: the world of visual arts and design seems to have an intimate relationship with electronic music, followed by jazz, indie rock, classical music and everything you can think of but metal. The reasons for this might not be a mystery, yet I believe that structure and sound in metal music can also relate to visual arts and design, beyond grunge textures, corpse paint and unreadable logotypes. Below are some arguments for that.

[I selected one song to represent each band and embedded it below the painting that represents the related painter. Last warning: these examples may not mean much to people who are not familiar with metal music and/or modern art.]


Jackson Pollock – Lamb of God



Kazimir Malevich – Chimaira



Willem de Kooning — Gojira



Robert Delaunay — Slipknot



Franz Kline — Dry Kill Logic



Clyfford Still — Mudvayne



Mark Rothko — Devildriver



A final note for any interested metal music listeners: you may complain that my selection of bands is very limited (almost entirely mainstream NWOAHM), at least compared to these painters from a larger variety of countries and periods. Yes, the selections are limited with my favorite mainstream bands (in order to make this post interesting to more people), and that’s not a problem for my argument since I don’t claim an absolute connection between these specific artists; I rather want to make a general case for a possible relationship between painting and metal music.

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