Lines and Colors art blog

Philip Burke

Philip Burke
Philip Burke is another of those artists whose images are more commonly known than his name. Whether you’ve heard of Burke or not, you’ve probably seen his his wildly exaggerated portraits of rock stars, splashed with lurid colors and jumping out at you from the pages of popular magazines with expressionistic abandon.

His work has been on the covers and interior pages of publications like Time, Newsweek, The New Yorker, Vogue, Sports Illustrated, The New York Times, TV Guide, Fortune and, of course, Rolling Stone, where he was the featured artist for several years. You’ll find a major section devoted to his work in the collection Rolling Stone: The Illustrated Portraits.

He has received awards and notice from the Society of Illustrators, the Society of Publication Design and the Society of Newspaper Design.

Burke’s portraits cover a range of public figures from entertainment, sports and politics, but his real love seems to be those in the music culture, from James Brown to the Beatles to David Byrne to Miles Davis to Carlos Santana (above).

If you go to, it resolves to the “official” site of L.B. Madison Fine Art, presumably his rep. There is a broad cross-section of Burke’s work here, arranged in various ways, along with a bio and other information. Unfortunately the images are watermarked; though most of them are not defaced to the point where you can’t at least get a feeling for the original image.

There is also an unofficial gallery on A Feast of Crumbs on which you can see the images without the intrusion of watermarking.

Burke does more than take the usual caricaturist’s license with the shape and placement of his subject’s features. Though his portraits can sometimes be less exaggerated, they are often wildly sculpted into outrageous forms, giving a real push to the psychological implications that you can read into some of them.

His colors are also “pushed”; brilliant contrasting hues seem to fight amongst themselves for dominance in their attempts to define the forms, each pulling their own way but somehow working together in the final image to snap into the clear focus of of the portrait. Remarkable.

Addendum: Thanks to Dale Stephanos for a link to this post from Stephen Kroninger’s blog in which he posts a wealth of early work from Philip Burke.


9 responses to “Philip Burke”

  1. I love this guys work! Thanks for sharing!

  2. It’s fascinating how the figures are slightly pushed and distorted, and also very painterly, yet have the weight of three dimensions regardless.

  3. Dale Stephanos Avatar
    Dale Stephanos

    You might enjoy this. It’s from Stephen Kroninger’s blog:

  4. MOST of them? man, I would love for people to develop a lighter touch with watermarks. There should never be a risk that viewers won’t be able to get a feel for the original piece; otherwise, why put it online at all?

  5. rick pariser Avatar
    rick pariser

    Philip’s “Alec Baldwin” which appeared in Rolling Stone Issue #575 is one of the best he has ever done. I have the original 3′ x 4′ painting, a certificate of authenticity from Philip (whom I knew years ago) and a copy of the RS edition in which it appeared. If you are interested in purchasing, please contact me. Value $35,000 – no dreamers please

  6. I have the original “Madonna” 36″x48″,which appeared in the 1992 Musik Express. It is one of the famous “Madonna” poses from that era done in Philip’s amazingly bright perspective. Of course, I have the certificate of authenticity from Philip. If interested, please do contact me at

  7. Joyce DeKottos Avatar
    Joyce DeKottos

    I saw the Burke exhibit of rock stars this weekend in Anaheim, CA. I am a huge fan of Eric Clapton and went primarily because he had a painting of Eric in the exhibit. I had seen his work previously in various publications but was blown away by viewing them all in person. He is a superior talent and viewing his work is not to be missed!

  8. Hi, Perhaps you know my work from some years ago. We both worked for the same publications. You were just starting out and I have followed your work. And it’s probably the best around. I’d like speak with you. My website has all the information to get ahold of me. I”m still in NYC and Connecticut where I primarily paint large oils. It’s nice to see art directors using someone that can actually paint.

    best regard
    Michael Trossman

  9. Anthonio Jack Avatar
    Anthonio Jack

       My name is Anthonio Jack from Oregon.. I actually observed my wife has been viewing your website on my laptop and i guess she likes your piece of work, I’m also impressed and amazed to have seen your various works too,You are doing a great job. I would like to receive further information about your piece of work and what inspires you.. Kindly confirm the availability for immediate sales..
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