Thursday, June 25, 2009

Robert Whitaker on the Butcher Album Cover - Part 3

WHITAKER: I'll keep repeating that it's unfinished artwork. Here in '93 I actually started working on what I originally had as a concept and behind the heads of each Beatle would've been a golden halo and in the halo would've been put semi-precious stones. And then their background would have been more gold so that it was rather like a Russian icon. And again, playing on the spoof and the pun of making an icon, it's actually canonizing the Beatles, thereby saying they have godlike images, which is slightly after John Lennon's saying, "We're more popular than Jesus," which at the time was true. It probably still is. But that even upset a lot of people. But in a material world, that was an extremely true statement. If you wish to look into a spiritual world, and go on about Jesus, well I'm not going to sit here and do it.

In fact in this exhibition, we were going make an enormous print of it and put it behind closed doors, and you'd have to go in one at a time and be sworn to almost the Secrecy Act. I mean, one of the statements I heard was that the dolls in the picture could upset pedophiles, and I mean, I've never heard such crap in all my life, but that was one of the statements from one of the people at the Apple company.

Q: Are they embarrassed by the picture?

WHITAKER: I just don't think... I would agree with the conception of the fact that the way the record cover was produced without, frankly, my finished artwork on it, it is a sort of image that they wanted to have around and yet... John almost his last written words were about this record cover, saying they were as bored as I was, just doing happy set-up snaps for publicity purposes in the studio. And this was a complete breakaway from it and you know, they were sort of I think amused at the time when we did. In fact, there was an enormous amount of laughter because that wasn't all that I did, I mean there was George Harrison bashing nails into John's head, I mean, with a hammer. It all goes down to sort of René Magritte, that sort of thing.

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