Have you ever sat and wondered what on earth the cover art on Jay Z’s book Decoded is all about? The image is of Andy Warhol’s “Rorschach”. The fully-illustrated book decodes 36 songs from Jay-Z’s extensive catalogue, offering an intimate, first-hand account of the rapper’s most famous raps. Warhol’s 1984 series of 38 Rorschach paintings was a later-in-life experiment which is probably the artistic link for Jay Z choosing the painting as his book cover at this stage in his career.
Hermann Rorschach, the Swiss psychiatrist who invented the test, was himself a frustrated artist and was nicknamed Kleck, meaning “inkblot,” because of his interest in sketching. In a real Rorschach test, a patient is asked to describe what he sees in ten standardised blots-some black and gray, others with patches of colour. Trained professionals then measure the responses against a set of established norms, interpreting the interpretations to reveal dark secrets about the subject’s personality, intelligence and sexual inclinations. However Warhol claimed to have no knowledge of the standardised blots of the official Rorschach test, although he was obviously intrigued by the serial repetitiveness and formulaic impersonality which he went on to interpret as art. Jay Z being a huge contemporary art fan clearly enjoyed Warhol’s offering of the Rorschach standardised blot, sharing Warhol’s art with an unsuspecting audience.