– Art By People – Stanley Donwood – Biography

Stanley Donwood - Biography
Stanley Donwood – Biography

Stanley Donwood was described by GQ magazine as “the Terry Gilliam of Radiohead”, which he hated, saying “a soundbite is a statement designed to preclude intelligent thought”. The powerful visual identity he’s created for the band is considered so in tune with Thom Yorke’s music that the debate still rages as to whether he and Yorke are one and the same, despite the pair accepting their 2001 Grammy Award for best packaging (a limited edition of Amnesiac) together. They met at Exeter University.

Most of the works you see here were direct collaborations with Thom, as in, Mr Yorke did the artwork too in every respect. The exception is the Hail to the Thief series of nine individual acrylic canvasses. These were painted by Stanley in the band’s Los Angeles studio during the final recordings of the Hail to the Thief album itself. Radiohead’s infamous Oxfordshire HQ contains an art studio for Stanley and Thom to work in.

Stanley’s art veers from propagandist graphics to introspective illustrations, but a consistent strength is its combination of deep personal and political emotions with modesty and humour; weighty subjects examined not entirely seriously but certainly respectfully. Notoriously reclusive, Stanley himself doesn’t pander to the disingenuous media trend for grandeur, and like many intelligent creatives operating in such a conceited sphere, cannot resist underselling himself. Amongst the collectibles available from his website are a pulp thriller, Catacombs of Terror, ‘written in a month for a bet’.