In the same way that the strange cover for David Bowie's The Next Day divided opinion earlier this year, the artwork for Lady GaGa's Applause became a hot point of discussion online on Monday (July 29, 2013). Featuring Mother Monster herself wearing a Pierrot-esque face, with emotional and theatrical makeup, the cover is distinctly iconic and not a million miles away from, cough, Madonna's artwork of the 1980s.

Lady GagaThe Artwork for Lady Gaga's 'Applause'

The cover photo was shot by Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinnodh Matadin, though fans haven't been able to make their minds up as to whether Gaga is crying or not. 

"I need to get your reading first," she told in a phone interview this week, "Otherwise it's not art."

The cover image is actually taken from the video shoot for 'Applause,' also directed by van Lamsweerde and Matadin.

"It's the end of the night after the show," Gaga explains, "When I look at it I see that there is a longing for the applause. I see that there is a void that is leaking onstage, that the performer is leaking, that the art is sort of becoming something else in front of your eyes. Something more human, something more honest."

Clearly, a fashion component runs through the cover - and will presumably form a key part of the video. The white cloth that surrounds her is actually a coat by the revered designer Gareth Pugh, though Gaga poured cold water on the idea that the theatrical element would be crucial to the whole ARTPOP vibe.

"It's interesting how you view things, and you look at it like, I'm a pop icon, and [you wonder] 'Is this the image of the album? Is this the direction? Who came up with it?' I think that's so interesting because it's exactly the kind of thing we're trying to destroy. This is one jacket. This is one image. This is one moment. This is one statement."

ARTPOP drops on November 11, 2013. Barring a leak, fans can listen to Applause on Aug. 19.

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