Listen to Andy Warhol’s Favorite Music with the DIA’s New Spotify Playlists

You can also explore playlists inspired by Diego Rivera and Vincent Van Gogh
DIA andy warhol - artist playlists
Artwork courtesy of the DIA

Amid stay-at-home orders, museums are finding new, creative ways to deliver art to the world. With virtual galleries and other ways to see pieces online, there is no shortage of artwork available for viewing.

The Detroit Institute of Arts, however, is taking a different approach to appreciating art during the pandemic. In addition to sharing some of its 65,000-piece collection on its website, the museum has been hosting challenges on its Instagram page and uploading art talks, DIY projects, and student art exhibition videos on YouTube. Now, with its latest creative offering, the DIA is publishing artist-inspired playlists on Spotify.

The museum’s Spotify account now features three artist playlists: Diego Rivera, Vincent van Gogh, and Andy Warhol. Laura Vestrand, a communications coordinator for the DIA, says the team at Lafayette American, a Detroit marketing and creative agency, is making the playlists which are reviewed and approved by the museum before being published. The agency is providing pro bono support for the museum’s social media efforts during its closure.

Each playlist features music from the artist’s lifetime and music that each artist probably listened to. Vincent van Gogh’s playlist, for example, contains compositions from musicians like Ludwig van Beethoven, Hector Berlioz, and Franz Schubert. Toby Barlow, chief creative officer at Lafayette American, says the composers that were chosen for the playlist were known to be his favorites based on letters that the artist wrote.

The music chosen for Andy Warhol’s playlist is more diverse, ranging from Elvis Presley to David Bowie to Detroit’s own Diana Ross. “As a young man, Warhol was surrounded by doo-wop and early rock & roll,” Barlow says. “He’s been quoted as saying that ‘Sally Go Round the Roses’ was his favorite song, and he was a Ben E. King fan. As a New Yorker he was exposed to jazz, then the punk-new-and-no-wave scenes. He had a long association with the poet Gerard Malanga, and a lifelong love of Chopin and opera. And the Velvet Underground connection is an obvious one.”

Curating these playlists is no easy task. “[It takes] a little internet research (sometimes quite a bit) about the artist — where and when they were born,” Barlow says. “Where they lived throughout their lives, important moments in their careers, etc. When possible, we choose recordings the artists would have listened to at the time. And then we put them in what we hope is an ear-pleasing order.”

The response from the community has been nothing but positive — all three playlists have already collectively racked up more than 400 followers on Spotify. “We hope it inspires others to make their own playlists inspired by art and artists,” Vestrand says.