Musicians are artists, so it’s no wonder that they have written music about other artists or types of art that they feel are significant.
If you’ve been looking for tracks that talk about artists and art, continue reading to find out what our picks for the best 25 songs about art and artists are!
1. Vincent – Don McLean
First on our list is Don McLean with his hit song Vincent, which came off the 1972 album American Pie. This track is about Vincent Van Gogh, one of the most famous painters of all time, and it dives into the details of his life, including mental health issues.
The song is a tribute to the artist’s life and reached number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number two on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart.
2. Art School – The Jam
Art School by The Jam came out in 1977 off the album In The City, and this song is all about art school and the freedom that it gives you. While some people may say art school isn’t really a school and make fun of you, the point is to have fun and do what your heart desires.
It’s a good upbeat positive track about pursuing art if that’s what you choose in life.
3. Andy Warhol – David Bowie
Next on our list needs no introduction because we all know David Bowie and his 1971 song Andy Warhol from the Hunky Dory album is a tribute to the famous painter. The track goes into the persona Warhol put out there and how mysterious he is. It also lists his famous works including Campbell’s Soup Cans and other references.
Interestingly, a riff from this song is used in the Metallica song Master Of Puppets as a tribute to Bowie.
4. The Night Watch – King Crimson
Rock band King Crimson released The Night Watch in 1974 from the Starless And Bible Black album, and this song is all about the 1642 Rembrandt painting.
In the track, the band talks about different inferences we can make from the painting, which shows a militia.
5. Picasso’s Last Words (Drink To Me) – Paul McCartney and Wings
Calling all Picasso fans, Paul McCartney and Wings released Picasso’s Last Words (Drink To Me) in 1973 from the Band On The Run album. This is a tribute song to Picasso, who passed away in 1973. A fun fact is that McCartney met Picasso and was very impressed in 1964, so he has a personal connection to the artist.
This track is very touching and a nod to being creative and being yourself.
6. So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright – Simon & Garfunkel
In 1970, on the Bridge Over Troubled Water album, Simon & Garfunkel released So Long, Frank Llyod Wright about the famous architect. It was a eulogy of sorts with a tribute to how important Wright was in society with his buildings such as the Fallingwater.
Sadly, the two were about to break up and go solo, so this song is for Simon and Garfunkel as well.
Recommended: The greatest music duos of all time
7. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds – The Beatles
In 1967, The Beatles released Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds from the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. The song is about a picture that John Lennon’s son Julian drew of his friend Lucy who was flying in the sky in the picture.
It’s really about this picture, but a lot of people thought the track was about LSD and other drugs. The song reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
8. Pictures Of Matchstick Men – Status Quo
Next on our list is a band you may not know, which is Status Quo, and they released Pictures Of Matchstick Men in 1968. The song talks about seeing an image from painter L.S. Lowry that reminded him of the girl he happens to be singing about. Reaching number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, this track can be found in the movie Men In Black 3.
9. Fourteen Black Paintings – Peter Gabriel
In 1992, Peter Gabriel released Fourteen Black Paintings from the album Us, and it’s about Mark Rothko, who was an artist. This song is both disturbing and dark and also moving with mostly instruments conveying a sense of hope. If you’ve seen any of Rothko’s paintings then you’ll understand where the darkness comes from.
10. The Art Teacher – Rufus Wainwright
Singing about a girl falling in love years ago with an art teacher but marrying a rich executive later in life, The Art Teacher by Rufus Wainwright was released in 2004. This song explores the topic of choosing money over love but never loving anyone else just as much as that art teacher.
Phillip Glass is the artist that is being talked about and referenced in this song with the piano melodies, and it’s a moving and touching track about anti-materialism.
11. Artists Only – Talking Heads
In 1976, Talking Heads released Artists Only on More Songs About Building And Food, and this was a tongue-in-cheek song that some people don’t understand. It goes into how the artist will paint, which helps clear his head, and it’s a general look at how an artist thinks and feels. A track about artists by an artist and for artists.
12. Meet James Ensor – They Might Be Giants
Next on our list is They Might Be Giants with the hit song Meet James Ensor. James Ensor was a painter from Belgium who isn’t that famous but created some very colorful paintings over the years.
It’s a great track about discovering this painter while in a history class about art and being enamored with his work.
13. Art For Art’s Sake – 10cc
British rock band 10cc released Art For Art’s Sake in 1976, and this song is about both creativity and art. The band is different and has a great sense of humor, which comes out in this track where everyone is encouraged to chase their passions in life, such as art. It was a popular song and charted all over the world in the Top 10.
14. Every Picture Tells a Story – Rod Stewart
In 1971, music legend Rod Stewart released Every Picture Tells a Story, which was from the album of the same name. The song talks about writers, and the cover art of the album is also a painting. It’s a great track that uses art to talk about women and his crazy life traveling the world. The song has been featured in the video game Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned and was also in the movie Almost Famous.
15. Painter Man – The Creation
Next is the British group The Creation with the 1967 song Painter Man, which is a lesser-known track about a man who became a painter after attending college but didn’t get very far with his career. It’s a British pop song that became the only top 40 hit the band had within the UK but reached the eighth spot in Germany.
16. Famous – Kanye West
Our next artist is someone we all have heard of before, and in 2016, Kanye West released Famous off of his Life Of Pablo album. He talks about art in this song and how it influences our lives every day. It’s a very upbeat track about how we can use our creative side to help the world.
It reached number 34 on the Billboard Hot 100, number 24 on the Rhythmic chart, and 13 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
17. The Red And Yellow Blues – Greg Percy
Another song that talks about art and how paintings can fill us with emotions and feelings is The Red And Yellow Blues by Greg Percy. This track was released in 2000 and talks about how we all can find enjoyment in art regardless of our age, gender, or background. It’s a catchy song that leaves you feeling upbeat and happy.
18. Painting Pictures – Adele
Popular artist Adele released the song Painting Pictures in 2008 off her album 19, and this lesser-known song is about loss and a relationship that has ended. A beautiful track and ballad about breakups, this song uses pictures and paintings to convey the thoughts and memories of her relationship.
19. Picasso Baby – Jay-Z
Picasso Baby is a track by rapper Jay-Z, which was released in 2013, and it’s how inspiring and transformative that art can be. There are several artists mentioned in this song including Jackson Pollock and Pablo Picasso.
He talks about New York City and street art, and how he thinks that art is essential in life and something that goes beyond race or class. This was a popular track that reached 91 on the Billboard Hot 100 and 34 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
20. Paint Me A Birmingham – Tracy Lawrence
Country music star Tracy Lawrence released Paint Me A Birmingham in 2004 on his album Strong. This song is using art to talk about relationships and love and how sometimes starting over is the best option.
It was a hit reaching number four on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and 42 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
21. Magritte – John Cale
Our next artist is someone you may not know, which is John Cale, and in 2003, he released Magritte on his album HoboSapiens. He talks about Rene Magritte in this song, who is an artist that is fairly popular and known for very odd paintings.
One of his most famous paintings is The Son Of Man. A green apple is covering the face of a man in a hat in that painting, and a lot of his work is haunting. The strings and drums in this track sort of match that vibe we get when we see Magritte paintings.
22. If – Bread
Bread is a fairly popular band even if you don’t know their name, you probably know their songs, including the 1971 song If, which is using pictures and paintings as metaphors for life. The track is dark and talks about if he hadn’t been born and suicide.
When he talks about pictures and paintings, there is some hope in his voice about life getting better. This topped the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart at number one and hit number four on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
23. Max Ernst – Mission Of Burma
Mission Of Burma, a well-known rock and punk band, released Max Ernst in 1981 on their album Signals, Calls, And Marches. The song is about the poet and sculptor from Germany, Max Ernst, and it goes into some of his most famous artworks. They also talk about his influence on the Dada movement.
24. When I Paint My Masterpiece – Bob Dylan
We don’t need to introduce you to Bob Dylan as he is one of the biggest folk-rock musicians of all time. He released When I Paint My Masterpiece in 1971. This song is about missing out on life while trying to create the perfect painting, which he calls his masterpiece.
It’s a beautiful track about how we often let life pass us by because we become so focused on one thing.
25. Interiors (Song For Willem de Kooning)- Manic Street Preachers
Manic Street Preachers released Interiors (Song For Willem De Kooning) in 1996 off of their Everything Must Go album. In this song, Willem de Kooning is the focus, who was a Dutch abstract expressionist who battled Alzheimer’s disease. The band talks about how society doesn’t recognize beauty and art like Kooning does and sort of has a sadness about that fact.
Not only is this track moving and haunting, but it’s also like a tribute to the artist he was and reflects on the fact he’s battling a disease that will ultimately take his artistic talents away from him.
From the time she was little, Florence loved listening to music and quickly learned how music can make you happy and feel fulfilled. One of her favorite memories is being in the garage with her dad working on classic cars with the local rock station blaring in the background. Ever since Florence was 3, she loved grunge music and spent hours listening to bands such as Alice in Chains, Mad Season, Soul Asylum, and Soundgarden.
She also enjoys classic rock, modern rock, nu metal, alternative rock, and old 90’s R&B. Her love of music grew as she got older, and used music to help her get through tough times in her life. More often than not, you’ll see Florence with earbuds in while she’s writing, cooking, cleaning, and doing other tasks. She also loves to debate music with her friends such as which lead singer is the best vocalist, the most iconic guitar solos in music, and what songs are really the best of the decade.