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Van Halen Fair Warning cover art...


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Yea, the fave VH album thread got me thinking.

I've always thought this was one of the best album covers of all time. I felt sorry for the artist, feeling that he must have been in a lot of pain in order to produce this. I was right.

Years ago I did some googling. It's from a painting called "The Maze" by a Canadian artist named William Kurelek.

Long story short - he was schizophrenic and painted this disturbing introspective work, then "got better" and painted beautiful landscapes. Here's some links and such if you're interested.

Description / Expertise

In 1952 the twenty-five-year-old William Kurelek was found wandering round the Maudsley Hospital in search of someone to admit him. He had come from Canada to seek psychiatric help. He was lucky to find there doctors who took his desire to become an artist as seriously as his mental state, and was provided not only with treatment, but a room in which to paint. In return he painted The Maze. 'I had to impress the hospital staff', he wrote, 'as being a worthwhile specimen to keep on…'


From Kurelek:

"The subject, seen as a whole, is of a man (representing me) lying on a barren plain before a wheatfield, with his head split open. The point of view is from the top of his head. The subject is then roughly divided into the left hand side of the picture, with the thoughts made in his head represented as a maze; and the right hand side, the view of the rest of his body. The hands and feet are seen through the eyes, nose and mouth, tapering off into the distance and the outside world. The Maze. An exitless one, it occupies and divides the inside of the cranium into groups of thoughts, the passageways being calculated to do the grouping. The white rat curled up in the central cavity represents my Spirit..."(more)




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He painted "Out of The Maze" afterwards...


Out of the Maze was painted after his recovery and return to his native Canada. The picture shows Kurelek with his wife and children enjoying a happy family picnic. But all is not as idyllic as a first glance might suggest. An empty skull in the bottom left hand corner is a reminder of the psychological prison from which the artist has escaped and the impending storm on the far right horizon hints at Kurelek's premonition that the world was heading for a nuclear holocaust. Both pictures are in the collection of the Bethlem Royal Hospital Archives and Museum where The Maze is on permanent display.

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