Music and art have long been intertwined, with artists finding inspiration in one another’s creations. Through the ages, musicians have written songs about art that capture the essence and beauty of some of the world’s greatest masterpieces. From rock and pop to classical and folk, these songs celebrate the power of art to move us, inspire us, and transport us to other worlds.
In this article, we’ve compiled a list of the top 24 songs about art that paint beautiful pictures. These songs span genres and styles, but they all share a common theme: the celebration of the visual arts. Some songs pay tribute to individual artists or specific works, while others explore the deeper meanings and emotions that art can evoke.
The songs on this list are not only musically compelling, but they also offer listeners a glimpse into the fascinating world of art. Through the lyrics, listeners can gain a new appreciation for the power and beauty of art, and perhaps even discover new works that inspire them.
Whether you’re a lover of art, music, or both, these songs are sure to move and inspire you. So sit back, relax, and let the music take you on a journey through the world of art.
1. Andy Warhol – David Bowie
“Andy Warhol” by David Bowie is a tribute to the influential artist of the same name. The song’s lyrics celebrate Warhol’s unique artistic vision, his iconic status in pop culture, and his unconventional lifestyle. The track features a mix of rock and pop elements, with Bowie’s vocals accompanied by a lively piano and guitar arrangement.
2. Vincent – Don McLean
“Vincent” by Don McLean is a tribute to the legendary Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh. The song’s lyrics tell the story of Van Gogh’s life, his struggles with mental illness, and his legacy as a painter. The track features McLean’s signature folk-rock sound, with acoustic guitar and gentle melodies that create a melancholic and introspective atmosphere.
3. René and Georgette Magritte with Their Dog After the War – Paul Simon
“René and Georgette Magritte with Their Dog After the War” by Paul Simon is a wistful and nostalgic song that evokes the atmosphere of post-war Paris. The lyrics paint a picture of the surreal and romantic world of the Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte, and his wife Georgette. The song’s melody is soft and dreamy, with Simon’s vocals complemented by accordion and gentle percussion.
4. Blue Period Picasso – Peter Bjorn and John
“Blue Period Picasso” by Peter Bjorn and John is a lively and upbeat tribute to the legendary Spanish painter Pablo Picasso. The song’s lyrics celebrate Picasso’s “blue period” in the early 20th century when he created some of his most famous works. The track features a catchy guitar riff, energetic drumming, and a sing-along chorus that captures the joy and playfulness of Picasso’s art.
5. Artists Only – Talking Heads
“Artists Only” by Talking Heads is an energetic and eccentric song that celebrates the creativity and individuality of artists. The song’s lyrics urge artists to follow their own path and break free from conformity, with frontman David Byrne’s vocals backed by a tight and funky rhythm section. The track features a mix of rock, funk, and new wave elements that capture the band’s distinctive sound and style.
6. Pablo Picasso – The Modern Lovers
“Pablo Picasso” by The Modern Lovers is a catchy and irreverent tribute to the legendary Spanish artist. The song’s lyrics playfully list Picasso’s famous works and his unconventional lifestyle, with frontman Jonathan Richman’s vocals backed by jangly guitars and a driving beat. The track captures the spirit of punk and new wave, with a DIY ethos and a sense of irreverence and fun.
7. Waste of Paint – Bright Eyes
“Waste of Paint” by Bright Eyes is a melancholic and introspective song that reflects on the artist’s struggle to create and connect with the world. The song’s lyrics paint a vivid picture of the artist’s isolation and alienation, with frontman Conor Oberst’s vocals backed by a sparse and atmospheric arrangement. The track is a poignant reflection on the creative process, and the challenges and rewards of making art.
8. The Art Teacher – Rufus Wainwright
“The Art Teacher” by Rufus Wainwright is a tender and nostalgic song that tells the story of a schoolgirl’s crush on her art teacher. The song’s lyrics paint a vivid picture of the girl’s admiration for the teacher’s creativity and his influence on her own artistic development. Wainwright’s vocals are emotive and delicate, with a piano and string arrangement that captures the song’s melancholic atmosphere.
9. Interiors (Song for Willem de Kooning) – Manic Street Preachers
“Interiors (Song for Willem de Kooning)” by Manic Street Preachers is an intense and moody song that pays tribute to the Dutch-American abstract expressionist painter Willem de Kooning. The song’s lyrics evoke the artist’s turbulent personal life and his groundbreaking work, with frontman James Dean Bradfield’s vocals backed by a brooding and atmospheric arrangement that captures the song’s sense of drama and intensity.
“My Old Paint” by Harry Belafonte is a cheerful and upbeat folk song that celebrates the bond between a cowboy and his trusty horse. The song’s lyrics evoke the American West and the rugged lifestyle of cowboys, with Belafonte’s vocals backed by a lively guitar and banjo arrangement. The track captures the spirit of folk and country music, with a sense of playfulness and joy that reflects the special relationship between humans and animals.
11. Magritte – John Cale
“Magritte” by John Cale is a haunting and experimental song that takes inspiration from the surrealism of Belgian artist René Magritte. The song’s lyrics are enigmatic and abstract, evoking the dreamlike quality of Magritte’s paintings, with Cale’s vocals backed by a dissonant and atmospheric arrangement. The track captures the spirit of avant-garde and experimental music, with a sense of mystery and intrigue that reflects the enigmatic quality of Magritte’s work.
12. Third of May / Ōdaigahara – Fleet Foxes
“Third of May / Ōdaigahara” by Fleet Foxes is a sprawling and epic song that reflects on the fleeting nature of life and the power of memory. The song’s lyrics are poetic and reflective, with frontman Robin Pecknold’s vocals backed by a lush and intricate arrangement that incorporates elements of folk, rock, and classical music. The track captures the band’s distinctive sound and style, with a sense of grandeur and majesty that reflects the beauty and transience of life.
13. Mona Lisa – Nat King Cole
“Mona Lisa” by Nat King Cole is a timeless and classic song that celebrates the beauty and mystery of Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic painting. The song’s lyrics evoke the enigmatic smile of the Mona Lisa, with Cole’s smooth and velvety vocals backed by a gentle and romantic arrangement. The track captures the spirit of jazz and pop music from the mid-20th century, with a sense of elegance and sophistication that reflects the timeless appeal of the Mona Lisa.
14. When I Paint My Masterpiece – Bob Dylan
“When I Paint My Masterpiece” by Bob Dylan is a poetic and wistful song that reflects on the process of creation and the search for meaning. The song’s lyrics are filled with vivid imagery and metaphor, with Dylan’s trademark raspy vocals backed by a gentle and folksy arrangement. The track captures the spirit of folk and rock music from the 1970s, with a sense of introspection and nostalgia that reflects the creative process and the longing for transcendence.
15. Going Down – `The Stone Roses
“Going Down” by The Stone Roses is a funky and upbeat song that celebrates the joy of creation and the power of music. The song’s lyrics are playful and irreverent, with frontman Ian Brown’s distinctive vocals backed by a groovy and danceable arrangement that incorporates elements of funk and rock. The track captures the spirit of the Manchester music scene from the late 1980s, with a sense of energy and spontaneity that reflects the rebellious and creative spirit of the era.
16. Viva La Vida – Coldplay
“Viva La Vida” by Coldplay is a sweeping and anthemic song that reflects on the rise and fall of power and the human desire for greatness. The song’s lyrics are epic and grandiose, with frontman Chris Martin’s soaring vocals backed by a majestic and orchestral arrangement that incorporates elements of pop and rock. The track captures the band’s signature sound and style, with a sense of triumph and defiance that reflects the human quest for glory and the fragility of power.
17. Art School – The Jam
“Art School” by The Jam is a punk rock song that criticizes the conformist education system and promotes the idea of individual creativity. The lyrics describe the protagonist’s frustration with the rigid and outdated methods of art education, while also recognizing the potential for genuine expression and artistic freedom. The energetic guitar riffs and driving rhythm section capture the rebellious spirit of the song and emphasize the importance of breaking free from conventional norms.
18. What the Water Gave Me – Florence and the Machine
“What the Water Gave Me” by Florence and the Machine is a haunting and atmospheric ballad that draws inspiration from the artist Frida Kahlo. The lyrics explore themes of life, death, and rebirth, and the way in which they are all interconnected. Florence Welch’s powerful vocals are accompanied by a lush arrangement of strings and percussion, creating an ethereal and otherworldly soundscape. The song’s title refers to a painting by Kahlo depicting her own drowning in a bathtub, further emphasizing the theme of transformation and the power of the natural world.
19. Picasso Baby – Jay Z
“Picasso Baby” by Jay Z is a hip-hop track that celebrates the lavish lifestyle of a successful artist. The song’s title is a reference to Pablo Picasso, one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. Jay Z uses the persona of a wealthy and extravagant art collector to boast about his own wealth and status, while also acknowledging the hard work and dedication required to achieve success. The track features a catchy beat and a variety of samples, including a portion of the 1974 hit “Sirens” by Adrian Younge.
20. Painter Man – The Creation
“Painter Man” by The Creation is a psychedelic rock song that celebrates the artistic talent of a painter. The lyrics describe the vibrant and colorful world created by the painter’s brushstrokes, while the driving beat and distorted guitar riffs create a sense of urgency and excitement. The song’s catchy chorus and catchy melody have made it a staple of classic rock radio stations.
21. Mission of Burma – Max Ernst
“Max Ernst” by Mission of Burma is a post-punk track named after the surrealist painter Max Ernst. The song’s lyrics and instrumentation are both highly experimental, with dissonant guitar riffs and unpredictable shifts in tempo and rhythm. The title and the surreal imagery in the lyrics suggest an exploration of the unconscious mind and the creative potential of the human psyche.
22. You Cezanne – Greg Percy
“You Cezanne” by Greg Percy is a children’s song that introduces young listeners to the work of the French artist Paul Cezanne. The playful lyrics and upbeat melody encourage children to explore their own creativity and find inspiration in the world around them. The song also touches on themes of perseverance and dedication, highlighting the hard work and commitment required to become a successful artist. The use of a children’s choir and simple instrumentation make the song accessible and fun for kids of all ages.
23. The Night Watch – King Crimson
“The Night Watch” by King Crimson is a progressive rock epic that tells the story of Rembrandt’s painting “The Night Watch”. The song’s instrumentation is complex and intricate, featuring a variety of time signatures and unconventional chord progressions. The lyrics describe the details of the painting and the emotions it evokes, capturing the tension and drama of the scene. The track features virtuosic performances by all members of the band, with extended instrumental sections that allow each musician to showcase their individual talents. The result is a captivating and immersive journey through the world of one of history’s most celebrated artists.
24. Picasso’s Last Words (Drink to Me) – Paul McCartney and Wings
“Picasso’s Last Words (Drink to Me)” by Paul McCartney and Wings is a tribute to the iconic painter Pablo Picasso. The song’s title refers to Picasso’s last words, which were reportedly “Drink to me, drink to my health. You know I can’t drink anymore.” The lyrics celebrate Picasso’s artistic legacy and the impact he had on the world of art. The song’s melody is upbeat and catchy, featuring a combination of acoustic and electric guitars and a driving rhythm section. McCartney’s distinctive vocals and the song’s catchy chorus make it a standout track on the band’s album “Band on the Run”.