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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Metal Louvre: Rush - Moving Pictures



In honor of Rush's current tour highlighted by a start-to-finish play of their breakout Moving Pictures album from 1981, let's salute the album's artwork in tandem.

Conceived by regular Rush artist Hugh Syme (who also handled synths for "Witch Hunt" on the album) and photographed by Deborah Samuel, one might say a conjugal colloquialism comes to mind, i.e. "a picture paints a thousand words" when it comes to Moving Picture's artwork. In this case, multiple pictures within a picture, painting a thousand words visually to accent the thousands of notes Rush expunges on this and most of their revered records.

The lush movement of the art gallery's archways lends vibrance despite its cold slate facade sentried by gargoyle heads. The glowing lights behind the gallery's throughway come off like sinister eyes as the crimson clad movers haul off questionable works of art. You have to love Rush's moxy by throwing one of their own identifiable images courtesy of Hume (i.e. the naked man befallen of and paralyzed by a pentagram) amidst the always-lambasted dogs playing poker painting by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge and what appears to be a depiction of Alistair Crowley in the forefront. The heated coloring of the movers' jumpsuits and their hellish (both overt and subliminally-teased) cargo suggests this is the devil's work. Is that Satan behind the gallery doors?

The weepy citizens to the right panel punctuates the joke of Moving Pictures' raucous album cover. One can read into it as if a defining culture is being swept away, either by the winds of change, fascist censorship or a lack of funding to keep the gallery afloat--the latter being resonant with the times 30 years since Moving Pictures was released. Of course, nothing too dramatic should be implied by Hume's work here, but it's a visually arresting bit of work unto itself, a wholesome compliment to the masterpiece Rush painted in sound.

Any implied tomfoolery aside, one of the legends behind the Moving Pictures album cover is the fact Rush was denied appropriate funding by their label to commission Hume to follow up on his vision for the album. Instead, the band fronted the money themselves, a wise spirit of self-investment that naturally paid off huge.

1 comment:

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