Famous People's Art: Jay Z

Leighann Morris
Description: Image via BeyBey's Tumblr

I used to respect Jay-Z, I and then I saw this appalling YouTube video of Hova singing Coldplay's Yellow in unison with Beyonce in baby-voices, locked into each others eyes. Gross. Let’s see if his involvement with the art world is just as lame!

That weird collaboration with Marina Abramovic at Pace Gallery

Picasso Baby is a track on Magna Carta... Holy Grail that references artists such as Picasso, Rothko, Jeff Koons, Francis Bacon, Basquiat, and Warhol, which is apparently enough to warrant a performance at Pace Gallery. The video (or “performance art film”)  for the track was filmed at the New York Pace Gallery, and was inspired by Marina Abramović’s The Artist is Present. In the performance, Jay rapped to a rotating cast of the creme de la creme of art-world celebrities, with Marina Abramovic joining him at different points. She acts weirdly smug and sort of predatory, it's horrible.

Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn

Description: Photo via NYT

This is Jay-Z’s powerhouse art advisor and the owner of Salon 94. Let’s face it, anyone with an art advisor is at least a bit of a dick. Art is about your own tastes, not what someone advises is going to be a good investment. ART ISN’T CURRENCY JAY. To make it worse, Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn is an art-brat socialite. Ergh.

Jay-Z at Art Basel Miami

Description: Image via popsugar.com

Art Basel Miami is not that different to the VMA’s, because it’s full of celebrities attending parties with other celebrities. Jay and B attend to flash some cash, and also probably so Beyonce can upload (or pay people to upload) some more photos to her lame blog. The couple paid $20,000 for the piece Everybody's Scared by Hebru Brantley, that was handpicked for Jay by Maverick Carter, LeBron James’ manager. The painter delivered his work to Jay’s hotel room, where this Instagram photo was taken. Good for everyone involved.

Laurie Simmons

Good fact: Laurie Simmons’ daughter is Lena Dunham. Better fact: Jay and B fell out about which Laurie Simmons photograph should hang in their apartment. Jay chose the photograph above, but Beyonce returned it because of its implied violence - apparently to a perfume bottle with legs instead. From this art anecdote we have learnt that Jay-Z is totally pussy whipped. It’s the mega-rich version of your girlfriend removing your MUFC bedspread and replacing it with Cath Kidston. Guyz, would u stand for this???

Jay-Z & Damien Hirst

Description: Image via

It’s fair to say that Jay-Z loves Damien Hirst, the once YBA innovator, who now produces bland, overpriced, and uninteresting artworks for the 1%'s downstairs rec rooms. Jay has used Damien Hirst’s spin paintings in the music video for Blue Magic, and a replica of that grotesque diamond encrusted skull “For The Love Of God” in the video for On To The Next One. In 2008, he performed in front of a backdrop that featured a visual of the same skull at Glastonbury Festival. Jay even told Jonathan Ross how much he loved him. In the interview, Jay told Rossy that the lyric “I’m trying to beat life, ‘cause I can’t cheat death” from the song “Pray” inspired Damien Hirst to make him a painting. Jay’s house is adorned with Hirst’s.

Watch the Throne

Description: Watch The Throne

The album’s regal gold cover was created under the direction of Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci. No doubt at all that this was Kanye West’s idea. Whatever, I really like it. It reminds me of the Ghiberti compartments on Florence Cathedral’s door.


Jay-Z likes art, and he wants us to know about it. In fact, art references have appeared in his lyrics since 1996 (listen to the Picasso reference in Friend or Foe). Jigga’s collaborations are disappointing though: Damien Hirst has nothing new to say, Marina Abramovic is a sell out, and Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn looks like the art version of that woman from the Devil Wears Prada. It’s to be expected though; this is a circle of self-promotion. I know you haven’t asked for my advice, but if I were to give it you, it would be: stop letting Beyonce dictate your art decisions. These lyrics need updating.

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