The most exciting thing about a new album, to me, is its artistic direction. I must admit I was pretty surprised by the photo used on iTunes. My idea of the "rebel" is someone that goes against an established order, yet the photo is perfectly clean, in a classic grayscale with an even more, already-seen classic look for Madonna (short, curly platinum blond hair, bright red lipstick) that reminds of the Erotica era.
I was stunned and tried to make sense of this visual. I was expecting something completely different. The best explanation I can come up with at this time, is that her face is supposed to look like a human heart wrapped with veins, with veins flowing in from everywhere around.
It also hit me that the shape of her lips was pretty unusual and very Lempicka-like. Tamara de Lempicka's paintings have been a source of inspiration for Madonna for a very long time (see the "Open Your Heart" and "Vogue" music videos, and the art direction for the Blond Ambition Tour for instance.) It seems that this time again, Madonna was inspired by Lempicka's art.
I'm not sure what to do with the un-rebellious tone of the photo. Madonna appears as a glamourous, Hollywood-like movie star. Maybe the objectified woman hides a rebel heart. She displays a woman who fits in perfectly with was Western society wants her to look like. The Lempicka touch might be the sign of the rebel heart. Indeed, the Art Deco Polish painter depicted glamourous women, and is known for her nude portraits. Her works were considered scandalous at the time (in the 20's). Although Lempicka had a rebellious spirit, she insisted on using a clean, precise, and elegant technique. That might be what Madonna decided to do with this photoshot. I might be overthinking this but that's the best explanation I can come up with.
Here's an image I put together to better illustrate my hypothesis. Feel free to leave comments to share your thoughts.