Penguin Street Art Series

Art by ROA for Nick Cave’s “And the Ass Saw the Angel” and Art by DAIN for Jonathan Coe’s “What a Carve Up!” (all images courtesy Penguin UK)

Penguin UK has released ten editions of ten contemporary classics with covers commissioned from street artists, using photographs documenting the literary-inspired work.

Art by Agostino for Nick Hornby’s “How to Be Good” (click to view full size)

The Penguin Street Art series was launched last month, with its little literary penguin logo adorably carrying a paint roller. On the whole, they’re pretty cool, although Sickboy may have been phoning it in for Zoe Heller’s The Believers, and it’s awesome to see literature merging with street art.

There’s a bound and skinned rabbit by ROA for musician Nick Cave’s 1989 Southern Gothic-set novel And the Ass Saw the Angel on cruelty with its father figure and his animal traps, and a frenetic collage by DAIN with his signature monocle of paint for Jonathan Coe’s 1994 What a Carve Up! flared from the British politics of the 1980s. Some of the other selections seem a little expected for the modern “classic” choices, like Don DeLillo’s Americana illustrated with a a maybe-too-obvious American flag by Dr Henry Jekyll and Nick Hornby’s How to Be Good, although this has one of the most vibrant covers with a balloon-headed figure by Agostino.

However, it’s overall an interesting project for cover art, and Penguin has long been known for their great covers, with just a couple recent examples being the latest censored title version of George Orwell’s 1984 or the Penguin Ink covers by tattoo artists. Maybe the project could be expanded to non-contemporary classics? I’d love to see Phlegm‘s cover for Dante’s Inferno or maybe get Monsieur Chat to embody the feline character of Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita. Below are more of the Penguin Street Art Series covers, including art by 45RPM, Yok, BARN, and ESPO.

Iain Sinclair’s “Lights Out for the Territory” by ESPO

Art by BARN for Peter Ackroyd’s “Hawksmoor”

Art by Sickboy for Zoe Heller’s “The Believers”

Art by Mittenimwald for Mohsin Hamid’s “The Reluctant Fundamentalist”

Art by 45RPM for Joshua Ferris’ “Then We Came to the End”

Art by Yok for William Boyd’s “Armadillo”

Art by Dr Henry Jekyll for Don DeLillo’s “Americana”

The Penguin Street Art series is available from Penguin UK. 

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Allison Meier

Allison C. Meier is a former staff writer for Hyperallergic. Originally from Oklahoma, she has been covering visual culture and overlooked history for print...

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