Burton Silverman paintings - FineArtConnoisseur.com
The cover of Jethro Tull’s Aqualung. EMI. Image courtesy theoutline.com

Burton Silverman has exhibited in galleries and museums since 1956. His paintings are represented in 32 public collections, including the Metropolitan Museum, NY, the Brooklyn Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Denver Art Museum, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the National Portrait Gallery. He has won nine major awards from the National Academy Museum, and gold medals from the Portrait Society of America and the American Watercolor Society. He is also a featured instructor at the upcoming Figurative Art Convention & Expo in Miami, Florida.

“Very early on, I fell in love with the landscape of the human face,” Burton says, “where all the emotional states of life are to be found, and that love affair has not altered.”

His son, Robert Silverman, reports at theoutline.com that of all his dad’s accomplishments, the one that defined his career for a time may be more bitter than sweet — painting the cover for Jethro Tull’s Aqualung. “Seven million copies of Aqualung have been sold over the last five-odd decades, and the cover has become one of the most recognizable in rock and roll history, migrating from vinyl albums to cassettes, CDs, and iTunes art, plus an unending supply of Aqualung-embossed merchandise,” Robert reports. “But dad’s earnings had a hard cap. In 1971, Terry Ellis, the co-founder of Chrysalis Records, paid him a flat $1,500 fee for the three paintings that would comprise the album’s artwork, consummating the deal with nothing more than a handshake. No written contractual agreement was drawn up, and, much to his eventual dismay, nor was any determination made about future use.”

Burton Silverman paintings - FineArtConnoisseur.com
Portrait painting by American artist Burton Silverman

“Given the haggard figure he created, we mused that he might eventually embody his own artistic creation — a destitute, howling figure draped in rags and huddled in a darkened street corner,” Robert says. “Buried within this bit of gallows humor lies a nagging truth: There’s a palpable sense of unease and frustration at seeing something he created become immensely popular — define his career, even — only to see his ownership of the work taken away, thanks in no small part to the persistent myths and outright falsehoods that have been told about the artistic inspiration for the cover.” [Continue reading the article by Robert Silverman here]


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