9: Pulp: ‘This Is Hardcore’ (1998)
For Pulp’s post-Britpop comedown album, This Is Hardcore, Peter Saville knew exactly what was required. “The music was a lot deeper, darker, and moodier,” he said. For the artwork, a photo shoot led by German photographer Horst Diekgerdes took place in Saville’s apartment, where a Russian model, Ksenia, posed topless across a leather sofa looking like a Barbie doll.
With art direction by Peter Saville and John Currin, the This Is Hardcore album was immediately met with controversy. The media lambasted it as sexist, implying the woman was a rape victim, or that she was dead, and many promotional posters around London were defaced.
Peter Saville remained stoic in the face of such criticism. “For the whole thing just to have passed without a murmur would have been a great disappointment,” he said. He was also very defensive of the band’s creative decision: “It was not about pornography.”