The world is ablaze with the buzz of Kanye West’s new video for his song “Famous”. The song itself was pretty controversial when first released on Kanye’s seventh studio album “The life of Pablo” with lyrics like “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex. Why? I made that bitch famous.” referring to ultra celebrity Taylor Swift. The music video features Kanye West in the center of a giant bed surrounded by naked wax figures of other celebrities Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Chris Brown, Caitlyn Jenner, Amber Rose, Anna Wintour, Ray J, Bill Cosby, Donald Trump, George Bush, and his wife Kim Kardashian. Although the video was only recently released from the shackles of a Tidalonly exclusive it has generated a great deal of debate for a number of reasons, one being is it actual art.
The debate stems from the inspirations of the video, the most apparent and publicized being a piece by Vincent Desiderio titled "Sleep". The video as referenced by Kanye is also inspired by Matthew Barney an American artist known for his work in the mediums of sculpture, photography, drawing and film. In a recent interview with Vanity Flair Kanye called the artist “my Jesus”. There have been several speculated art influences for the video as well. The one that has the biggest ground is the ‘Last Supper’ by Leonardo Da Vinci in which a figure of Jesus is seated in the middle of a dining table beside a number of individuals he has made famous, sound familiar.
As anything Kanye West does, the release of the video has come with its praising fans as well as its vocal disapproving populist. Amongst the fans is the artist Vincent Desiderio who was quoted as saying “I was almost in tears” when describing his initial viewing of the video. However much the fans of the video are speaking up the critics have been noticeable louder. One of the most vocal of those critics has been the actor/director Lena Dunham who recently criticized the video in a Facebook post stating that it was "one of the more disturbing 'artistic' efforts in recent memory."
Whether you like it or not the video does question the notion of art. What makes one artistic creation art and the other not. We have all heard the stories of a piece of object in the middle of a white room in that “modern” art museum that is being praised by the highest of art critics. Is there some criteria that must be passed in order to call a piece art? Kanye’s video has made it apparent that there is no definite answer to that question. What do you think of the video, Art or not?
Written By: Evan Edmond