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Stanley Donwood, “Hole” (2001)
Stanley Donwood, “Hole” (2001)Christie’s Image Ltd. 2021

The apocalyptic artwork from Radiohead’s Kid-A is going on display

Thom Yorke is co-curating an exhibition with Stanley Donwood, the artist behind the band’s haunting album covers

Stanley Donwood, the artist behind Radiohead’s haunting, dystopian album artworks, is selling six large-scale paintings he created for the band’s seminal album, Kid-A. Alongside drawings, lyrics, and digital art made around this era in the band’s history, the paintings will go on display this autumn at Christie’s London headquarters in an exhibition co-curated by Thom Yorke and Donwood entitled How to Disappear Completely.

Released in October 200, Kid-A was created amid fevered turn-of-the-century anxieties. Donwood’s artwork, which he made in Radiohead’s studio – a converted barn where he worked alongside the band, immersed in the sound of the writing and recording of the album – perfectly distils the record’s year 2000 angst.  

In a statement about the upcoming show, the British artist recalled the frenetic period of creativity from which these artworks emerged: “Very late one night Thom and I were alone in the vast wastes of Oxfordshire, surrounded by darkness and trying to finish the artwork. It was impossible – we had made too much, too many pictures, and it was like being in a storm of ideas and drawings, paintings, and texts. We were exhausted and could no longer think clearly. We had lots of versions of the front cover, all with different pictures and different titles in different typefaces. We couldn’t work out which was the right one so we took them all downstairs and used tape to stick them to the cupboards and the fridge in the kitchen, hoping that in the morning the right cover and the right title would be obvious. And it was, and it was called Kid A.”

Donwood’s haunted, apocalyptic landscapes provide the perfect visual accompaniment to Kid A – a soundscape of millennial foreboding. Made between 1999-2001, the paintings take inspiration from German expressionism and feature a recurring motif of menacing triangular shapes which appear in the stark landscapes like barbed mountains, trees, or fangs. Donwood observed that the shapes are “jagged – almost like teeth, like the land has teeth”. 

While the works will be available to view online, Donwood emphasised that his huge, ice-bound, dystopian scenes should be viewed in person: “They are very textural painted with the edge of my boot, knives, and sticks. They are visceral works.”

Take a look at the gallery above for a glimpse of some of the artworks going on display. 

How to Disappear Completely, curated by Thom Yorke and Stanley Donwood, will be on display in Christie’s London headquarters from October 9 until October 15 2021