Guest MINDSETTER™ Michael Rose: The Genius of Beyonce & Jay-Z at the Louvre
Monday, June 18, 2018
The new video, shared with unwitting fans via Instagram on Saturday afternoon, has over seven million views as of this writing (a little more than 24 hours after release). It features Beyoncé and Jay-Z in the empty Louvre Museum; perhaps the greatest bastion of so-called "high culture", and also the center of the predominantly white and male tradition of Western Art. The Apeshit video is stunningly styled, choreographed, and filmed. And it is also highly conceptual. It takes part in an ongoing tradition of celebrities engaging with high art, it places the uniquely American art form of rap on the same level with European masterpieces, and it corrects the lack of diversity that is often taken for granted in cultural institutions, not only in the Old World, but in the New as well.
The video opens with a cinematic shot of a black figure with angel wings standing guard outside the Louvre by night; bells chiming in the distance. It then transitions inside the museum with lavishly gilt interiors appropriate to a former palace and details of fine European paintings. In the next scene Beyoncé and Jay-Z are pictured dramatically standing alongside La Jaconde, The Mona Lisa. Jay-Z wears a pale teal suit with a gold medallion, Beyoncé is in a pink silk smoking jacket, richly accessorized with diamonds. They are presented one-to-one with the best-known portrait in Western Art, equaling it in regality. The scene is also a reference to their viral photo shoot at the Museum in 2014, in which they also took a photo alongside Da Vinci's most famous painting. In both scenes, they are compared directly to their painted co-star. They, like she, stare out at the viewer. They too, are iconic. And The Carters, like The Mona Lisa, are celebrities with far-reaching influence.
Other celebrities, too, have engaged with the art world. The painter Will Cotton was the artistic director for Katy Perry's California Gurls music video in 2010. George Clooney was styled by the Japanese conceptual artist Yayoi Kusama for a W Magazine spread in 2013. John Currin was commissioned to paint a portrait of Jennifer Lawrence for the cover of Vogue's 125th Anniversary Issue in 2017. Louis Vuitton created a line of bags designed with Jeff Koons that feature paintings by Rubens, Monet, and others. The list goes on. Celebrities and luxury brands regularly utilize blue-chip artists in their own projects both to establish their cultural bona fides and also to raise the cachet of their own brands. In the case of The Carters, the hallowed halls of the Louvre and the paintings within it become not a sales pitch, but rather a backdrop for an effective performance about culture and race that undermines traditional assumptions about art, the vagueries of high versus low culture, and the institutions that broker mass interpretations of these topics.
Whereas the media of the artworks presented in the video are sculptures and oils, the media of the performers are hip-hop and dance. The uniqueness of hip-hop, rap, and their associated dance styles can be traced back to their foundations in The Bronx of the 1970's, and other mostly African-American enclaves in cities throughout the United States. The Carters' merging of this American musical tradition with the Parisian art establishment is reminiscent in so many ways of Jazz Age ex-patriotism, when American-American Jazz singer, dancer, and performer Josephine Baker rose to spectacular popularity in the Paris of Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Gertrude Stein. Beyoncé and Jay-Z are interested in the unique history of African-American performers in France, and engage with that story in the video. Like Baker, their cultural prominence abroad has been achieved not through the avenues of the establishment but through a mass popularity built on the currency of their own work. Lyrics in Apeshit directly reference their popularity and success:
I can't believe we made it (this is what we made, made)
This is what we're thankful for (this is what we thank, thank)
I can't believe we made it (this a different angle)
Have you ever seen the crowd goin' apeshit? Rah!
This popularity comes from a broad and diverse fan-base, which has already raised ecstatic support for their new album and the Apeshit video. Throughout the already viral video, the iconic American music duo is presented as equal to not only The Mona Lisa, but also to the Winged Victory of Samothrace, and Egyptian Pharonic sculpture. Beyoncé and Jay-Z perform as art historical subjects with the same gravitas afforded to the works of art they reference. Dancers perform too, alongside Beyoncé in front of works from the academic canon of art history, including Jacques Louis David's The Consecration of the Emperor Napoleon and the Coronation of Empress Joséphine, while Jay-Z raps in front of Gericault's Raft of the Medusa. The mostly white faces of art history are contrasted with contemporary African-American artists. Rigid paintings by dead painters are challenged and redefined by rap and the ecstatic movement of individuals who are very much alive. And importantly, this redefinition is undertaken utilizing African-American music and choreography, with a cast made up of people of color. People who have been mostly left out of institutions like the Louvre, as evidenced by the artworks scanned in the video, claim their rightful place in the cultural pantheon.
Through performance in the Louvre and amongst works deemed "important" by the art establishment The Carters remind the viewer of their own cultural import, which comes not institutionally but communally. Beyoncé and Jay-Z are clearly and unarguably cultural leaders in their own right, and have been for some time. They have millions of followers around the world and, in a reference to the current political climate, they note that they fill stadiums as successfully as the NFL. So the Apeshit video is more of a statement of fact than anything else. These artists are as recognizable and as recognized as The Mona Lisa. They are as successful and as respected in music as painters like David or Da Vinci have been in the visual arts. The video shows though that The Carters share in the kind of creative "genius" formerly associated with white, male, European artists. Although it was produced commercially to promote their music, and does not fit the mold that has been set out for a work of high art, The Carters' Apeshit tells a compelling story and helps to reframe popular visions of culture and cultural institutions.
The video concludes with Beyoncé and Jay-Z in front of The Mona Lisa again. The two, who are previously pictured in the same spot facing the audience, slowly turn to regard each other and then the turn away from the audience to look at famous painting. The point is clear: two uniquely American celebrities considering an iconically European celebrity and thinking about her and their roles in the history of visual culture. In the video, audiences are enjoined not only to reflect on the status of great art or great celebrities within the mass culture, but to reconsider who is deserving of their status and who might have been left out of the popular story and history of art.
This was originally published at www.michaelrosefineart.com.
Related Slideshow: 25 Must See Spring & Summer Concerts in New England - 2018
Jackson Browne at PPAC
Hall of Famer Jackson Browne is coming to PPAC in May.
In his career, Browne has sold over 18 million albums in the U.S.
He is known for songs such as "These Days", "The Pretender", "Running on Empty", "Lawyers in Love", "Doctor My Eyes", "Take It Easy", "For a Rocker", and "Somebody's Baby" and others.
Browne was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004 and the Songwriter's Hall of Fame in 2007
Boston Calling 2018
Boston Calling, the first New England music festival of the season kicks off in downtown Boston on the weekend of May 25 to the 27.
The festival features performances from Eminem, The Killers, Jack White and more.
Jason Aldean at Xfinity Center
Jason Aldean brings his "High Noon Neon Tour" to the Xfinity Center.
Aldean is celebrating the release of his eighth album titled "Rearview Town."
In his career, he has seen 19 singles reach #1 on the on either the Hot Country Songs or Country Airplay charts with "Why", "She's Country", "Big Green Tractor", "The Truth", "Don't You Wanna Stay" (a duet with Kelly Clarkson), "Dirt Road Anthem," among others.
In 2017. Aldean won the Entertainer of the Year Award at the ACM Awards.
Latin American Music Festival at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet
A celebration of Latin culture that showcases the music, art, food, and dance styles of countries like Mexico, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Bolivia, Puerto Rico, and many more.
The festival will be filled with live performances from dance groups, musicians, and vocalists who are ready to put on a show.
Imagine Dragons at Xfinity Center
Imagine Dragons is bringing their "Evolve Tour" to the Xfinity Center this summer.
The group is known for songs such as "On Top of the World," "Amsterdam," and "Warriors."
June 7 - 10
Live music, dance, food, and visual art installations transform the Providence. Dozens of music performances play over a four-day event. Multi-art installations take-over of public spaces, parks, and outdoor stages in the heart of Providence, Rhode Island. Artists from across the globe perform.
Paul Simon at TD Garden
Formally one half of the legendary duo "Simon & Garfunkel," Paul Simon is bringing his solo tour to the TD Garden.
Simon has earned sixteen Grammys for his solo and collaborative work, including three for Album of the Year (Bridge Over Troubled Water, Still Crazy After All These Years, Graceland), and a Lifetime Achievement Award.
He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.
Tim McGraw & Faith Hill at Mohegan Sun
Music legends Tim McGraw and his wife Faith Hill are bringing their Soul2Soul World Tour to Mohegan Sun this summer.
The tour is one of the highest grossing tours in country music history.
McGraw has won three Grammy Awards, 14 Academy of Country Music Awards, 11 Country Music Association (CMA) awards, 10 American Music Awards, and three People's Choice Awards.
He has sold more than 75 million records worldwide.
Hill has won five Grammy Awards, 15 Academy of Country Music Awards, six American Music Awards, and several other awards.
June 15 & 16
Zac Brown Band at Fenway Park
The Zac Brown Band is returning to Fenway Park for their "Down the Rabbit Hole Live" tour to Fenway Park.
In their career, the band has charted 16 singles, 13 of which have reached #1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs or Country Airplay chart.
Their hits include, " "Chicken Fried", "Toes", "Highway 20 Ride", "Free", "As She's Walking Away", "Colder Weather", "Knee Deep", "Keep Me in Mind", "Goodbye in Her Eyes", "Sweet Annie", "Homegrown", "Loving You Easy", and "Beautiful Drug".
The Wailers at Greenwich Odeum
East Greenwich, RI
In honor of Bob Marley, the Wailers are continuing to tour and celebrate his legacy.
There are more than 250 million Bob Marley & The Wailers recordings sold, including 1977’s Exodus, anointed Best Album of the Century in 1999 by Time Magazine, and “One Love,” named Song of the Millennium that same year by BBC.
Dave Matthews Band at Xfinity Center
The popular rock band makes their return to the Xfinity Center in Mansfield this summer for one show.
Expect some new material, exploratory jamming, and hits like “Crash,” “Ants Marching,” and “What Would You Say," among others.
Dave Matthews Band has sold over 60 million records worldwide.
Luke Bryan at Fenway Park
Country music star Luke Bryan is coming to Fenway Park.
Bryan released his latest album titled "What Makes You Country," on December 8 of 2017. The album features the hit single "Light it Up."
To date, Bryan has sold more than 7 million albums and 27 million singles worldwide.
Bryan, who's career who began in 2000, is best known for his number on singles " I Don't Want This Night to End," "Drunk on You," and "Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye."
Chris Brown at Xfinity Center
Chris Brown is bringing his “Heartbreak on a Full Moon Tour” to the Xfinity Center.
Brown has sold more than 100 million albums and singles worldwide, making him one of the world's best-selling music artists.
He has won several awards, including 14 BET Awards, 5 Billboard Music Awards, and 5 Soul Train Music Awards. According to Billboard, Brown has the seventh most Hot 100 entries on the chart with 87.
Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers and Los Lobos at Indian Ranch
Hornsby's music has been recognized on a number of occasions with awards, including the 1987 Grammy Award for Best New Artist with Bruce Hornsby and the Range, the 1990 Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album, and the 1994 Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance
He also collaborated with Grateful Dead and was a member of the band from September 1990 to March 1992, playing over 100 shows during that period.
July 21 & 22
Foo Fighters at Fenway Park
The Foo Fighters are bringing their "Concrete and Gold Tour" to Fenway Park for a two-night stay.
The Foo Fighters recently released their ninth album titled "Concrete & Gold," which reached #1 in the U.S.
Over the course of the band's career, four of their albums have won Grammy Awards for Best Rock Album. Overall, they have sold over 12 million copies in the United States alone.
They are known for songs such as "Best of You," "Learn to Fly," "Times Like These," and more.
July 27 - 29
Newport Folk Festival
The Newport Folk Festival returns this summer with a lineup that includes “The War and Treaty,” “Twain,” “Lucius” and more.
July 26, 27 & 28
Taylor Swift at Gillette Stadium
Taylor Swift is coming to Gillette Stadium for three shows this summer as part of her “Reputation” Stadium Tour.
Swift is the winner of 10 Grammy Awards, five Guinness World Records, one Emmy Award, 21 Billboard Music Awards, 12 Country Music Association Awards, eight Academy of Country Music Awards, and one Brit Award.
She is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 40 million albums—including 27.8 million in the US—and 130 million single downloads.
She was named Time Person of the Year in 2017 as part of the “Silence Breakers.”
Newport Jazz Festival
The 2018 Newport Jazz Festival will run from August 3 to August 5 at Fort Adams State Park and the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
The festival will show off over 50 individual jazz ensembles on four stages including performances at the International Tennis Hall of Fame and Fort Adams State Park.
The festival will feature artists such as George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, Roy Hargrove, Alicia Olatuja and more.
Jay Z & Beyonce at Gillette Stadium
The tour is the second one that Beyonce and Jay-Z have done together following 2014's On The Run tour.
Jay-Z is one of the best-selling musicians of all time, having sold over 50 million albums and 75 million singles worldwide, while receiving 21 Grammy Awards for his music.
He holds the record for most number one albums by a solo artist on the US Billboard 200 with 14.He has also had four number ones on the Billboard Hot 100, one, ”Empire State of Mind,” as the lead artist.
Jay-Z married Beyoncé in 2008. As a couple, they have an estimated net worth of $1.16 billion.
In her career, Beyoncé has sold an estimated 100 million records as a solo artist, making her one of the best-selling music artists in history.
She has won 22 Grammy Awards and is the most nominated woman in the award's history.
Beyonce is also the most awarded artist at the MTV Video Music Awards, with 24 wins.
Forbes ranked her as the most powerful female in entertainment on their 2015 and 2017 lists, and in 2016 she finished in sixth place for Time's Person of the Year.
Jimmy Buffett at Fenway Park
Escape to Margaritaville with music legend Jimmy Buffett at Fenway Park. Buffett will be joined by Huey Lewis and the News.
In his career, Buffett has released 30 studio albums, eight of which are Gold Albums and nine are Platinum.
He won his first ever Country Music Award (CMA) for his song "It's 5 O'clock Somewhere."
Billy Joel at Fenway Park
For the fourth consecutive year, rock and roll legend Billy Joel will play Fenway Park.
Billy Joel released his first hit song, arguably still his biggest hit, Piano Man in 1973 and since has become the 6th best selling recording artist and the third best selling solo artist in the United States.
Joel was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1992 and then the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999.
Journey & Def Leppard at Fenway Park
Legendary rock bands Journey and Def Leppard are combining to bring a huge show to Fenway Park.
Def Leppard is one of only five rock bands with two original studio albums selling more than 10 million copies in the U.S.
Overall, they have sold more than 100 million records all over the world.
Journey has sold over 80 million albums worldwide, earned 19 top 40 singles and 25 gold, platinum and multi-platinum albums, and has headlined multiple sold-out stadiums.
The Beach Boys at Indian Ranch
The legendary Beach Boys are returning to Indian Ranch this August for a concert that you don't want to miss.
The group had over eighty songs chart worldwide, thirty-six of them US Top 40 hits (the most by an American rock band), four reaching number-one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The Beach Boys have sold in excess of 100 million records worldwide.
August 24 & 25
Kenny Chesney at Gillette Stadium
Kenny Chesney is bringing his "Trip Around the Sun" tour to Gillette Stadium with special guest Dierks Bentley.
Kenny Chesney has already performed at Gillette Stadium more times than any other artist and broke 9 attendance records during his 2015 Big Revival Tour.
Chesney has recorded 20 albums, 14 of which have been certified gold or higher by the RIAA, produced over 40 top 10 singles on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs and Country Airplay Charts, 28 of which have reached #1.
Rhythm and Roots
21st Annual Rhythm and Roots Music and Dance Festival Every Labor Day Weekend at Ninigret Park Best Festival for Music.
Live Music at GoLocal LIVE's Alex & Ani Lounge
Be sure to stay tuned to the Alex & Ani Lounge on GoLocal LIVE where you will see some of the best local musicians in the state perform.
To date, local stars like Allysen Callery, Mickey Lamantia, the Billy Harpin Band and others have all taken the stage at the Alex & Ani Lounge.
Stay tuned all Spring and Summer to check out the performances.
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- Guest MINDSETTER™ Germain: A Call to End the Concord Street Transfer Station Project
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