Holy god. The first thing that I thought when I saw this cover was: â€œwhat a fearsome thoroughbred.â€
Photographer Jean Paul Goude took this photo in 1978 for a New York Magazine profile of model Grace Jones. The article (and the accompanying photographs) would help to transform her into a pop singer and gay icon. When Island Life – the punnily-titled compilation of her biggest singles for Island Records – was released in 1986, this image was pulled out of the bottom draw and dusted off to create a classic album cover.
Some more background on the original image has emerged with the release (the puns continue) of So Far So Goude, by Jean-Paul Goude with Patrick Mouries. At the time of the photo Goude was Jonesâ€™ lover and she was his muse. Before they fell out, they furthered each otherâ€™s career in a way neither could have imagined.
“Initially, she was flattered by all of my attention,” says Goude. “And she’s no dope – Grace is an opportunist and she knew my vision was good for her career. Initially, she let herself be taken over, but then she suspected that I had only fallen in love with her image.”
If youâ€™re wondering how Jonesâ€™ body can do this pose, the simple answer is that it canâ€™t. Goude employs what is technically referred to as â€œvisual trickeryâ€. Hereâ€™s how it was done:
Hereâ€™s a picture of somebody else trying the pose:
Describing the concept, Goude says â€œâ€¦unless you are extraordinarily supple, you cannot do this arabesqueâ€ (the ballet pose in the picture). â€œThe main point is that Grace couldnâ€™t do it, and thatâ€™s the basis of my entire work: creating a credible illusion.â€
Apart from this album cover the only thing I previously knew about Jones was that she was good friends with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 80â€™s. It kind of makes sense â€“ they both look as if they have emerged from an alternate reality where infants are breastfed steroids and the puny are used as toothpicks. 25 years later heâ€™s the conservative Governor of California while sheâ€™s still drunkenly touring the world and releasing albums with cover art like this (2008â€™s Hurricane):