It’s a common misconception that the larger-than-life celebrity portraits that frequented the covers of Interview magazine throughout the 70s and 80s were the work of the great Andy Warhol. In fact, it was artist and illustrator Richard Bernstein who was the mastermind behind these artworks, granting the likes of Mick Jagger, Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin with more than just 15 minutes of fame, but eternal superstar status. As Warhol once summed up, “Richard Bernstein’s faces are wonderful… He makes everyone look so famous.”
Upon entering the intimate single room at The Mayor Gallery, which plays host to a beautiful array of Bernstein’s cover art for Interview magazine, you’re instantly transported to an era of excessive glamour. His distinctive craft of retouching photographs with pastels, paints and pencils giving a three-dimensional quality to these celebrity faces. It almost seems wrong then that these bold and colourful portraits, which breathe so much life into the room, should be confined to frames. Most notably a mesmerising Aretha Franklin who dazzles on a light blue backdrop – there’s no denying that Bernstein certainly did a good job of expressing Warhol’s obsession with celebrity culture.
In this ever-growing digital age, where glossies are concerned with over-airbrushing and Photoshopping to portray ‘perfection’, Bernstein’s covers are a great reminder of just how potent illustrated cover art can be. For that reason alone, we strongly recommend that you visit the Richard Bernstein Cover Art exhibition and indulge in the work of one man’s palette, which created some of the most iconic illustrated covers in history.
You can catch the vibrant exhibition at The Mayor Gallery until August 23rd.