When it comes to art, few things compare to the beauty and majesty of a painting. For centuries, painters have used their talents to create some of the most stunning pieces of artwork the world has ever seen. And as it turns out, many musicians have been inspired by paintings as well.
Whether it be the painting itself, or the artist behind it, these songs will make you appreciate this form of art in a whole new way. From classical pieces to modern rock, here are 20 of the best songs about paintings!
Vincent – Don McLean
Don McLean’s song “Vincent” is a beautiful tribute to the famed artist Vincent van Gogh. McLean was inspired by van Gogh’s paintings and felt a deep connection to the artist’s story. The lyrics of the song explore van Gogh’s life, his art, and his tragic death. McLean captures the emotion of van Gogh’s paintings in his music, and the result is a moving and evocative song. “Vincent” is a timeless classic that continues to inspire new generations of artists and art lovers.
Andy Warhol – David Bowie
The song “Andy Warhol” by David Bowie is a tribute to the renowned artist and his work. Bowie’s lyrics reflect on Warhol’s impact on the art world, and how his work has stood the test of time. The song also makes reference to some of Warhol’s most famous paintings, including his Campbell’s Soup Cans and portraits of Marilyn Monroe. Bowie’s song is a testament to Warhol’s enduring legacy, and serves as a reminder that his work is still as relevant today as it was when it was first created.
Picasso Baby – Jay-Z
Picasso Baby is a song by American rapper Jay-Z, released as the lead single from his twelfth studio album Magna Carta Holy Grail. The song samples “Sweet Baby” by British band The Olympics. The song is a hip hop track with elements of electronic music. The lyrics of the song are about paintings and how they can provoke emotion. The song received mixed reviews from critics, with some hailing it as one of Jay-Z’s best singles in recent years, and others feeling that it was uninspired and lacked creativity. Whether you love or hate the song, there’s no denying that it’s a unique and interesting take on the concept of art.
Art For Art’s Sake – 10cc
Art For Art’s Sake is a song by the British rock band 10cc. The song was released as a single in 1975 and peaked at number nine on the UK Singles Chart. The song is about paintings, and how they can be appreciated for their own sake without needing to be understood. The lyrics compare the experience of looking at a painting to that of listening to music, and how both can provide pleasure without needing to be fully understood. The song also includes a reference to the French artist Henri Matisse, whose work is often praised for its beauty and simplicity. Overall, Art For Art’s Sake is a fun and catchy song that celebrates the enjoyment of art for its own sake.
Picasso’s Last Words – Paul McCartney And Wings
Most people are familiar with the work of Pablo Picasso, one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. Less well-known is the fact that Picasso was also a musician. In the early 1970s, he collaborated with Paul McCartney on a song called “Last Words.” The song is based on a series of paintings Picasso created in his later years, which were inspired by his childhood memories. The paintings are characterized by their use of bright colors and simple shapes. “Last Words” is a beautiful tribute to Picasso’s art, and it is clear that McCartney was deeply influenced by his collaborator’s unique vision.
Blue Period Picasso – Peter Bjorn And John
The song “Picasso’s Last Words” by Paul McCartney and Wings is a tribute to the Spanish painter Pablo Picasso. The lyrics recount some of Picasso’s most famous paintings, including “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” and “Guernica”. McCartney also makes reference to Picasso’s personal life, including his relationships with fellow artists such as Henri Matisse and Salvador Dali. The song ends with the claim that Picasso was “the greatest artist of our time”. This is a fitting tribute to a man who was not only a brilliant painter, but also a major force in the development of modern art.
Virginia Plain – Roxy Music
Roxy Music’s “Virginia Plain” is a song about paintings. The lyrics paint a picture of a Virginia plain that is ” covered in snow.” The song goes on to describe the paintings that cover the plain, including a painting of a house, a painting of a tree, and a painting of a river. The song describes the scene as ” beautiful” and ” majestic.” The painting of the river is particularly described as ” flowing” and ” peaceful.” Ultimately, the song paints a picture of a Virginia plain that is both beautiful and serene.
Pablo Picasso – The Modern Lovers
Pablo Picasso was one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. His unique style and approach to art changed the course of modern art, and his work continues to be highly regarded today. “Pablo Picasso” by The Modern Lovers is a song about his paintings, and how they have affected the world. The lyrics describe Picasso’s work in a positive light, and express admiration for his talent and achievements. The song also mentions some of Picasso’s most famous paintings, such as “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” and “Guernica”. Overall, “Pablo Picasso” is a tribute to the artist and his lasting impact on the world of art.
Pictures Of Matchstick Men – Status Quo
Status Quo is a British rock band that was formed in 1962. The band’s 1968 single “Pictures of Matchstick Men” was their first chart hit in the United Kingdom. The song is about paintings, specifically the paintings of Spanish artist Salvador Dali. Dali was known for his Surrealist paintings, which often featured images of melting clocks and other bizarre objects. It is likely that the song’s title was inspired by Dali’s 1931 painting “Soft Watches,” which features a number of clocks with melting timepieces. In the lyric, the narrator describes how he “sees pictures of matchstick men and they’re running around.”
Interiors – Manic Street Preachers
The song “Interiors” by Manic Street Preachers is a haunting and beautiful exploration of the paintings of Edward Hopper. The lyrics paint a vivid picture of Hopper’s work, describing the “lonely figures in empty rooms” and the “cold light of day.” The song captures the feeling of isolation and despair that is often present in Hopper’s work, and the result is a deeply moving and atmospheric piece of music. In addition to being a great song, “Interiors” is also a fascinating study of one of America’s most important artists. By taking the time to explore Hopper’s work, the listener can gain a greater understanding of both the artist and his art.
Max Ernst – Mission Of Burma
Max Ernst was a German painter who was a pioneer of the Surrealist movement. He was known for his use of automatic drawing, which is a technique where the artist lets the pen or brush move freely without conscious thought. This technique often resulted in bizarre and dreamlike images. Ernst was also known for his collage paintings, which he made by combining fragments of paper, fabric, and other found objects. “Max Ernst” by Mission of Burma is a song about Ernst’s life and work. The lyrics make reference to several of his most famous paintings, including “The Elephant Celebes” and “The Hat Makes the Man.”
Rene And Georgette Magritte – Paul Simon
In the song “Rene and Georgette Magritte” by Paul Simon, the singer tells the story of a chance encounter with a couple who are fans of the Belgian surrealist artist Rene Magritte. The song paints a picture of two people who are deeply in love with each other and with the art of Magritte. They are both art enthusiasts, and they have even named their child after the artist. The song is a beautiful tribute to the power of art to connect people from all walks of life. It is also a reminder that, sometimes, the best way to appreciate art is to simply enjoy it alongside someone you love.
The Art Teacher – Rufus Wainwright
The Art Teacher is a song written and performed by Rufus Wainwright. The song is about paintings and the act of painting. In the song, the narrator paints a picture of a teacher who is in love with art. The teacher is shown to be very passionate about art, and she tries to teach her students the same level of passion. However, the students do not seem to understand or appreciate the art form. As a result, the teacher eventually gives up and leaves her profession. Despite this, she still remains in love with art and continues to paint privately. The song is a commentary on the state of education, and how students are often not given the opportunity to appreciate and learn about art. However, it also shows how art can still be loved and appreciated, even if it is not understood by everyone.
Magritte – John Cale
Magritte is a song by John Cale, released in 1974. The song is about the Belgian artist René Magritte and his paintings. Cale was inspired by a visit to the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where he saw a retrospective of Magritte’s work. The song begins with the line “This is not a pipe”, which is a reference to Magritte’s painting The Treachery of Images. Cale goes on to describe some of Magritte’s other famous paintings, such as The Son of Man and The False Mirror. He also refers to Magritte’s use of Surrealist techniques, such as placing objects in unexpected contexts. Ultimately, Cale praises Magritte as “a genius” who “opened up a thousand doors”.
Famous – Kanye West
In his song “Famous,” Kanye West compares the lives of famous people to a painting. He begins by referencing the painting “Sleep” by Fernando Botero, which depicts a naked woman lying in bed. Kanye compares the painting to a famous person who is “laying in the bed, just like they’re dead.” He goes on to say that “all these celebrities live in a bubble, and they don’t know what’s going on.” Kanye then references the painting “The Death of Marat” by Jacques-Louis David, which shows the assassinated French politician Marat lying in his bathtub. Kanye compares Marat to a celebrity who is “in the tubulous living dead,” and says that they are both “thin-skinned.”
Applause – Lady Gaga
The song “Applause” by Lady Gaga is a celebration of art and the creative process. In the song, Gaga sings about the joy and satisfaction that comes from creating something new, whether it’s a work of art or simply an act of self-expression. She also pays tribute to the artists who have inspired her, including painters like Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock. With its infectious beat and positive message, “Applause” is sure to get listeners thinking about the role that art plays in their own lives.
The Red And Yellow Blues – Greg Percy
Paintings are a unique form of art that have the ability to tell a story or convey a feeling without the use of words. The Red and Yellow Blues by Greg Percy is a perfect example of this. The song is based on the paintings of Van Gogh, and it uses the colors and brush strokes of his paintings to create a feeling of melancholy and longing. The blues in the song represent the feelings of loneliness and sadness that often accompany the creative process, while the red and yellow represent the passion and energy that go into making art. By combining these two elements, Percy has created a song that is both beautiful and heartbreaking.
From Matisse To You – Greg Percy
Greg Percy’s song “From Matisse to You” is a tribute to the paintings of French artist Henri Matisse. The song highlights some of Matisse’s most famous works, including “The Pink Tablecloth” and “The Red Room.” Percy’s lyrics capture the vibrant colors and bold shapes that are characteristic of Matisse’s style. While the song is primarily an homage to Matisse’s art, it also serves as a reminder that paintings can be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of their background or expertise. Whether you’re a fan of Matisse or simply appreciate art in general, “From Matisse to You” is sure to put a smile on your face.
You Cezanne – Greg Percy
You Cezanne by Greg Percy is a song about the paintings of French post-impressionist artist Paul Cezanne. The song was released in 1997 on Percy’s album “Foolish Things.” The lyrics of the song describe the paintings of Cezanne and how they make the viewer feel. The lyrics also refer to other famous paintings, such as “The Starry Night” by Vincent Van Gogh. You Cezanne is a haunting and beautiful song that evokes the feeling of looking at a painting and being transported to another place and time.
Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds – The Beatles
The Beatles were always known for their innovative and experimental approach to music, and “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” is no exception. Written by John Lennon, the song is believed to be inspired by a painting that his son Sean had made of a schoolmate named Lucy. The vivid imagery of the lyrics brings the painting to life, transportiing the listener into a surreal and fantastical world. With its references to “kaleidoscope eyes” and “tangerine trees,” the song creates a vivid picture of a colorful and dreamlike landscape. In addition to being one of The Beatles’ most memorable songs, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” is also a classic example of Lennon’s unique songwriting style.