Recently, while trying to wrap my head around the pop-surrealist art movement, I stumbled across a video showing a painting of a creepy, big-eyed Katy Perry likeness reclined amongst flowers and forest animals with audio of the famous pop singer covering the 1892 song “Daisy Bell.” I found similar videos featuring Tyler the Creator, Weird Al Yankovic, and Nick Cave.
The Daisy Bell project is the brainchild of artist Mark Ryden, a cornerstone of the pop-surrealist or lowbrow art movement who blends the dream-like qualities of surrealism with kitsch and modern iconography. Ryden’s work often features Abe Lincoln, dewey-eyed children, the Virgin Mary, and raw meat.
Ryden worked as a commercial illustrator during the 90’s and produced album covers for Aerosmith, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Michael Jackson, and others.
“Employing the visual trappings of the formally idealized 1890s in America—women dressed in satin skirts with large bows, large wheeled bicycles, Main St. USA, vaudevillian stages—Ryden recreates scenes from this marginalized slice of pop culture,” reads the Kohn Gallery website.
The songs were made into 999 vinyl records sold for $99. Ryden donated half the proceeds from sales to Little Kids Rock, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting music education in public schools. Many also survive on YouTube and are featured here in hopes of leaving you perplexed.