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Detroit-area museum shows off Warhol record covers

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 20, 2014 at 11:57 am •  Published: June 20, 2014

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. (AP) — The banana. The zipper.

Along with his Marilyn Monroe portrait and the Campbell Soup cans, Andy Warhol's album covers have their own place in the pop-art pantheon.

The Cranbrook Art Museum is kicking off what it says is the most comprehensive exhibition of authenticated Warhol record covers to date — including three recently discovered albums that never before have been shown in such a setting.

"Warhol On Vinyl: The Record Covers, 1949-1987+," which opens to the public on Saturday and runs through March 15, features 60 unique album covers and nearly 100 in all, including color and size variations.

They range from the recognizable to the rare.

There's The Velvet Underground's 1967 debut album, "The Velvet Underground & Nico," which features a Warhol drawing of a banana on a plain white background; as well as 1971's "Sticky Fingers," a Rolling Stones record that includes not only hits such as "Brown Sugar" and "Wild Horses" but a provocative cover of a man in jeans with a zoomed-in shot of the zipper.

Fun facts: The banana on the Velvet Underground LP could be peeled. It was a sticker that, when removed, revealed a pink banana underneath. And pulling down the zipper on the Stones' album revealed the male model's underwear.

"What (Warhol) really saw for the potential of the record cover was for it to be collected by the masses," says the exhibition's curator, Laura Mott. "Only a few people can own prints and only a few people can own paintings, but millions of people own this record," she said, pointing to "Sticky Fingers."

The exhibition came about after a Cranbrook board member, Frank Edwards, gave his collection of original-issue Warhol record covers as a gift to the museum, Mott said. Edwards was "really wanting (his collection) to be out there into the world," said Gregory Wittkopp, the museum's director.

A handful of the albums, which sit under glass and are handled only by museum officials wearing protective gloves, have never been displayed publicly.

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