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Nirvana’s Nevermind: an album artwork expert decodes the famous underwater baby cover

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In the 30 years since it first appeared, Nirvana’s diamond-selling record Nevermind has seen several re-releases and anniversary special editions. As well as being hugely influential musically, the album has become a visual landmark of alternative popular culture.

But what exactly is the cover art, with its memorable image of a naked underwater baby apparently chasing a dollar on a fishing line, supposed to represent? As someone who studies 20th century record sleeves, I have some thoughts.

Inspired by Kurt Cobain’s fascination with underwater births, the record label’s art director, Robert Fisher, hired photographer Kirk Weddle to shoot a conceptually related image.

The first thing to note is that the naked child imagery itself doesn’t really speak to the themes of excess, debauchery and hypermasculinity that often appear in rock........

© The Conversation

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