You Need to Know Ari Marcopoulos, the Man Behind Jay-Z's "Magna Carta Holy Grail" Album Cover

He's done more than just Jay-Z's "Magna Carta Holy Grail" cover.

Not Available Lead
Complex Original

Image via Complex Original

Not Available Lead

The Fourth of July this year was sweeter than ever because Jay-Z released his twelfth studio album Magna Carta Holy Grail. The cover, unveiled in the most epic way possible, is a black and white photograph of two classical nude marble statues. Although everyone (except maybe Kanye West) is listening to the album, not everyone enjoying the music knows the photographer who took the picture for the cover.

Dutch-born, U.S.-based artist Ari Marcopoulos is behind the image. In fact, he also took the monochromatic pictures of Jay-Z posted in Time Square as you can see above. Apparently there is a whole series of images the photographer took during recording sessions that have not yet been released. It's not too surprising Jay-Z hired the creative genius, he clearly loves art.

We thought we'd give you some background on the photographer. Marcopoulos began his career as an assistant for an artist you might know: Andy Warhol? Yup, thought so. However despite the fame of his mentor, Marcopoulos' photography isn't what you would call commercial. He doesn't follow aesthetic formulas that lead to pretty, flat images. Rather, he takes pictures that explore why visuals evoke certain feelings within us. He typically chooses grittier, natural looking subjects that are true to life. You can see for yourself here.

He has photographed the downtown hip-hop and art scenes of New York during the '80s and the wandering snowboard community of the '90s. Marcopoulos depicts American life with such aggressive honesty, which has lead him to worldwide recognition. he's had exhibitions everywhere, including a solo show at PS1/MOMA, and works in collections like the Whitney Museum of American Art and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Below are more images Marcopoulos took of Jay-Z for his Samsung Galaxy collaboration via the photographer's blog, which you can visit for more exclusive pictures. 

Latest in Style