Visual Artists and Their Musician Doubles

by Jo Morten Weider

Visual art and music have long shared connections. At its best, they both have the ability to make you lose yourself in the moment – the common denominator is an emotional energy channeled into art. However, sometimes artists not only share the same creative urge, they also look the same. Take a look at 10 visual artists and their musical equivalents, both in terms of how they look and their artistic practices. 

Damien Hirst and Phil Collins
The enfant terrible of the art world is probably best known for his dead animals preserved in formaldehyde-filled vitrines. At first glance, his twin brother from another mother, Phil Collins, might not share Damien’s bad boy image, but listen to the lyrics of In the Air Tonight. Isn’t he really mocking those animals when he sings “Well if you told me you were drowning, I would not lend a hand?”

Damien Hirst. Courtesy of the artist
Phil Collins

Rashid Johnson and Future
According to Wikipedia, visual artist Rashid Johnson produces “conceptual post-black art”. Future, on the other hand, have been praised by English music critic Simon Reynolds, who clams that Future reinvented blues for the 21st century. The LA Times once wrote that his music “comes closest to conjuring the numbing overstimulation of our time”. Conceptual post-black art is the Future. 

Rashid Johnson. Photographer: Bjorn Looss. Courtesy of the artist.
Rashid Johnson, Future
Future. Courtesy of the artist

Terence Koh and G-Dragon
The Chinese-Canadian artist Terrence Koh used to work under the alias “asianpunkboy” and is known for mixing porn, queer, high fashion and punk culture and creating a stir in the international art community. That is pretty much what the Korean pop artist G-Dragon have been doing to the music industry for the past ten years as well (except maybe for the porn and queer part). 

Terence Koh

Cory Arcangel and Aphex Twin
Not only does Corey Arcangel look a lot like (a kind version of) electronic musician Aphex Twin, he also studied electronic music in the late 90s. Just like Aphex Twin, much of his work is about exploring the digital opportunities made possible by modern technology. Fun fact: The book Mechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination, has one chapter dedicated to Cory Arcangel and one chapter dedicated to Aphex Twin. 

Cory Arcangel
Aphex Twin

Tschabalala Self and Cardi B
Tschabalala Self’s body of work is concerned with the iconographic significance of the black female body in popular culture. She calls her work political, and a space where these bodies can exist for their own pleasure and self-realization. One of these black female bodies belongs to rapper Cardi B, who initially gained social media-notoriety as a stripper but is now topping music charts worldwide. And while the rapper might not call herself a political artist, she and Self shares the use of the body and mainstream preconceptions to recontextualize and empower the black female. That is why they are both feminists.

Tschabalala Self
Cardi B

Adam Pendleton and Kanye West
Kanye West is a conceptual artist known for his multi-disciplinary practice, which moves fluidly between painting, publishing, photographic collage, video and performance. His work centers on an engagement with language, in both the figurative and literal senses, and the re-contextualization of history through appropriated imagery to establish alternative interpretations of the present and, as the artist has explained, “a future dynamic where new historical narratives and meanings can exist.” We are just joking, that was Adam Pendleton’s bio.

Adam Pendleton
Kanye West

Wolfgang Tillmans and Goldie
In 1985, two years before he bought his first camera, Tillmans started experimenting with music. Recently, producing music has resurfaced as an important part of Tillman’s life. From 2016 to 2018 Tillmans released one album and three EPs. They are all available on Spotify. Music has always played an important role in Tillman’s visual work as well. As a matter of fact, he once photographed Goldie while documenting club culture in London.

Wolfgang Tillmans

Tracey Emin and Skream
These YBAs (Young British Artists) have both made pioneering work that has been regarded as offending and over the top. In 1998, Emin made her notorious My Bed-piece, a confessional self-portrait of objects—complete with used condoms, cigarette butts, and empty vodka bottles. Her depiction of sex, depression, and unfulfilled love shocked the art world. This was the exact same time the Dubstep scene began taking shape, and a few years later Skream was the genre’s leading figure. The music is characterized by overwhelming bass lines and reverberant drum patterns and clipped samples. Not your typical music to make love to, unless your name is Tracey Emin. 

Tracey Emin

Gardar Eide Einarsson and G-Eazy
While out and about in Stockholm one night in May 2018, G-Eazy was arrested for assaulting a security guard and possessing narcotics at a night club. G-Eazy allegedly became “belligerent”, prompting security to intervene. When the security guards tried to calm the rapper down, Eazy began throwing punches at the guards. He was eventually escorted out of the venue in cuffs by police. This could have been a scene or a theme from one of Einarsson’s works, who tend to focus on institutional power relations, especially those forcefully upheld by police.

Gardar Eide Einarsson

Yayoi Kusama and 6ix9ine
Separated at birth? Actually, no. Kusama was born in Japan in 1929. She moved to New York in 1958 and soon became part of the avant-garde scene throughout the 1960s, especially in the pop art movement. Rapper 6ix9ine was born in 1996, which makes him 67 years younger than Kusama, but he raps like an old samurai. Not only do the two badass artists look alike. 6ix9ine is known for his brute-force screaming technique in some of his songs, kind of like Kusama’s screaming, obsessive compulsive dottiness. 

Yayoi Kusama

Listen to a selection of tracks by the musicians featured above by accessing Artland’s Spotify account. Happy listening!