(chiptune jingle) - good evening. tonight, it is my pleasure to introduce dr. genevieve hyacinthe. genevieve is a new member of our faculty in the mfa fine arts department at sva, and tonight, she's gonnadiscuss kanye west's yeezus era aesthetics, includinghow west's album design, stage performance, andother design elements
are informed by jean-michelbasquiat's persona and painting constructions. genevieve's research interestsinclude west african art and contemporary art. she's taught at wellesleycollege and served as an associate curator ofafrican art at the college's davis museum and culturalcenter, where she was a discussant at the blackwomanhood symposium, held in conjunction with theexhibition black womanhood:
images, icons, and ideologiesof the african body. she's also a communityorganizer, and she created the afro-futurismfestival, a four-day event that included a symposium,lectures, and films, exploring futurist themesand technological innovation in black art and culture. since 2009, genevieve hasbeen an assistant professor of art history at purchasecollege here in new york. genevieve received a bain the history of art
from pennsylvania, anda masters in art history from purchase, and a phdin the history of art and architecture from harvard university. please join me in welcominggenevieve hyacinth to our series and to our faculty. (applauds) (audience cheers and applauds loudly) - thanks, mark. hi, everyone.
(laughing) so, my talk is a little long. i'll try to feel you out tosee if you've had enough. because sometimes people,you guys are artists so you know, when you're in to something, you think everyone is,and it's like focus. i'm going to be speakingabout work that's going towards my next book. my current book right now,almost done, is on ana mendieta
and so my second one is on kanye, basquiat, crossovers between the visual artsand hip hop culture. this talk has five sections, and the first one is griot time. on the right you're lookingat jean-michel basquiat's gold griot of 1984, andyou know who's on the left. the point here is thatboth artists, obviously, are concerned with overlaps between media,
between the sonic and the visual. i'll break it down as we go forward, this kind of history of the griot. griot as many of you may ormay not know are the history singers and performers out of west africa. so you're looking at twopostcards by this french colonialist postcard magnet named, foultrier was his last name. he ended up travelingaround like mali, senegal,
and depicting west africans. so you're looking at two offoultrier's postcards of griot. so what you see, both are from about 1906, and so you get a sensethat griot are very into their presentation, layering. they're kind of like divas, you know. they're auspicious members of society. not only are they supposedto be adept lyricists, they're historians.
they know the history of allthe people in the community, and they're really great performers. they're enigmatic. griot are in existence today. i travel to west africa alot to study west african dance and drum, andyou're looking at a group called super khasso, andi was on this project documenting a lot of westafrican bands that have griot. so i'm going to show yousome footage from a festival
we did in bamako, and youwill see a griot at work, both singing and dancing. this clip is just a fewminutes, so let's go to that. (chanting over rhythmic percussion music) i'm just going to showyou a little bit and talk. so right now she's in a call and response with another griot. the drummers are supportingher also in call and response. she's singing the historyof people from the region
that she derives from. and now she's going to perform. (moves into energetic chantingwith buoyant drumming) so again my point hereis that this is a history that jean-michel and kanye areresponding to, are part of. she's doing a dance calledlamba, which is a dance for griots, specifically. like james brown? yeah. so it speeds up.
let me go a little bit forwards. (energetic percussion music) and the thing here is that,i guess i'll give it away now this is actually a guy,which many of you may have picked up on, but. and it goes on. that's the idea. i'll stop, i'll pause that. so some of the work i do out in the field.
let's go back to here. so the comment from the audience that this is like james brown. other critics have noticed that as well. manthia diawara, who teaches film history down at nyu wrote about malick sidibe, the malian photographer that many of you may or may not know,spoke about malick sidibe as the rhythm photographer,and he said that
that thinking about thesekind of dance forms. james brown was verypopular in west africa during the 70s when manthiadiawara was living there, and so he says that malicksidibe, the photographer, is in conversation with james brown. so back to basquiat. you see hear again, thiswork is called gold griot. and i have frozen fromthe super khasso video this kind of fortuitouspositioning of the griot.
basquiat's form is not static. this is the point here. you see limbs and transparencies. he's trying to create abody that is pulsating in multiple directions,capturing that energy, that essence of the griot, the dynamism, the rhythm, the rhythmphotography, the rhythm body. so basquiat had africa on his mind. he went to west africa several times.
he had a huge exhibitionin abidjan, ivory coast. this is a shot from his studio. you see he has all theseelements of africa there. this image is from about 1983. robert farris thompson,many of you may know him. he's this very, he's like a grandpa (laughing)of west african art. he wrote in essay in 1983 formary boone gallery exhibition of basquiat, and in thatessay, he was speaking
about alchemy and thepresence of secret africa in new york at the time. he was writing this inrelation to basquiat. i think this studio shot is very telling. in the discourse, this ideaof africa in basquiat's work has more space to develop. then, of course, on the rightyou see him holding the globe, intentionally having it,you know, facing africa. he's keenly aware thathe's being photographed,
and he's gotten theglobe in the right place. so kanye west, the griotcomparison that i'm making in this section of thetalk, has a, i think. there's a conflicted or not, it doesn't seem, let'ssay, from the record, that he has a deep connection with africa. many of you may have known of this issue. it was this tweet that heput out, where he was asking zuckerberg and page forfunding, apparently,
and you can read it. all you dudes in san franplay rap music in your homes but never help the real artists, him. i mean i just showedyou some real artists. but never help the real artists, kanye. i love kanye. i don't want you to getthe idea that i don't. and he says, you'd ratheropen up one school in africa like you really helped the country.
africa's not a country. so you know, he got alot of flack for that. i think that there's more for him to do. i mean if he's interested. nobody has to do anything,but there's a certain, again, heritage that he's apart of, that perhaps, he's not exploring fully. but he has done work promotingafrican consciousness, let's say, 2006, doingthe diamonds are forever,
trying to draw attention to sierra leone. here in about 2010, hesigns this nigerian hip hop artist to his label, andthey actually put out a record together. apparently, therelationship has dissolved, but my point here is to try to be fair. clearly, it was a faux pas,africa is not a country, but west has been doing some things to try to make that connection.
this is part two of my talk. two out of five, just tokeep us aware of time. in this section, i'mspeaking about the collision and complementarity of twotypes of black modernisms of the 20th century. so the two black modernismsthat i'm thinking of in this sequence is thecollision of what we call bricolage with black sleek,what i call black sleek. so this idea of blackbricolage, if you know what
neo-hoodooism is, youknow, franklin sirmans, an awesome curator, he's been around. he was in houston a lot, andthen he was at princeton. he did an exhibition calledneo-hoodooism in 2008, and that looked at the builttradition in black arts, making collage in threedimensions, basically. there's like a rough hewncharacteristic to that that we see in basquiat. typically, bricolage elements,black bricolage elements
have a very, like, textural,grainy, unfinished quality. but we have another strainthat's very prevalent in 20th-century black arts, and that's what i would call black sleek. this is something that aarondouglas was thinking about during the harlem renaissance,trying to make black forms that were kind of european,that showed extension and progress, that used new materials. so what i'm arguing here with yeezus
is that we have thiscollision of the sleek and the rough hewn, the bricolage. nice thing about thepresentation of the yeezus album cover, let's just usethat word, is the red label. that's that signifier thatpoints to the handmade. that's that signifier thatalso invites participation. you see here, this isactually james franco writing over the yeezus album. and then on the right,you have another artist
doing his thing, adding his hand over kanye's autograph, basically. this image here, you'relooking at a mondrian, new york from 1942. like yeezus, it has thatcoming together of the sleek, so the white canvas iswhat i would consider to be the sleekness becausewe know through purism, the movement that mondriancame to be associated with, and de stijl, they were tryingto strip down all excess.
they were trying to get at the grid. they were trying to getat that bare canvas, so you have him doing this, but then, as part of the exploration,he starts to add tape. there's a tension created,a tension bringing together the handmade, the rough, and the sleek that i'm arguing we seein the yeezus design. le corbusier, the greatarchitect who said, architecture is revolution,was an inspiration for kanye.
has been since prettymuch, let's say 2010. so before yeezus came out,but the yeezus aesthetic on stage was very much indebtedto this idea of lightness, and this idea thatstructure can be pierced by air and light. here's corbusier withone of his maquettes, where you can see that space. we all know the structure ofmodernism, trying to get rid of excess, to makesee-through walls, basically.
see-through walls and structures. so there on the right, yousee kanye in 2012 on stage with that kind ofplexiglass, penetrable form upon which he's resting his mixing board. here's a side of the yeezus stage. if you think back to thatmaquette with all that lightness going on, you kind of seethat here to, that extension. it's an elevation with very little, let's say, excess or clutter.
another shot of corbusier. this is with his maquette of villa savoye, which is an icon of early20th-century architecture. the actual structurewas built in 1927 or 29, one of those two, i getthe 7s and the 9s mixed up, but here you can see it in situ. lots of, again, dissipationof walls, a lot of glass instead of walls, a lot oflight can pierce through, things are elevated, etc.
this is an aesthetic thatkanye was really into with his design ideas for yeezus. interestingly, in 1927, adolfloos, who's an austrian czech architect, designed ahouse for josephine baker, who's an icon of blackmodernity, early black modernity in the performance arts. this house was never finished. it only remained as a model. you see here, that the wallshave kind of fattened out a bit
from what we saw at villasavoye, but we still get the sense of sharp lines. think back to the mondrian i showed you, you know angles and grids. we see that here in thishouse designed for ms. baker. so ms. baker is reallyinteresting as a persona, and i'm not going to go intoher with depth right now, but her performativeoftentimes was a collision of that kind of primitivism,
or we can say, theunfinished, and sleekness. so in a work like this, youcan see her doing her thing. she's very complicated, idon't really need to into it. i'm sure many of you understandwho she was as a performer. but you can see her skirtis all like, unfinished, and may make you think of somekind of like raffia skirt. she's wearing that, but herhair is like falling out. she used to burn herscalp to perm it so close and make it shiny.
so think again aboutthat label, the skirt, the label colliding with theuber sleekness of her hair, the lines and the sleeknessof the cityscape behind her. here's another baker. this one is, you know, more modern, and we have that kindof savageness coming in through the tiger, butit's not on her body. it's an accessory. so not only did kanye getreally into this kind of
dissolution of walls andraising up of structure, not only did he kind ofappropriate that from corbusier, he also liked corbusier's work with light, so his creation of lit space. how his soft light couldfill the environment. you're seeing a shot fromthe yeezus performance, extravaganza, here. you're going to see how thelight, it's a soft light that fills the stage, albeitthere's a lot of light
differential occurring during yeezus because there are fivechapters as many of you may or may not know. so let's keep going. yeezy says he was influencedby corbusier's lights. so for a long time, peopledidn't really know exactly what light he was referring to. architectural digest really got into this, like this hip hop starsinto one of our icons.
there's a lot of discussion, you know, of which light was it. because he was being very general. so here are a few of them. i guess we could imagine that these are all from the 50s. again, you see that they're sleek. they're essential, they're minimalist. this light source, youcan see, may provide
that filter effect, but interestingly, it was this light. this light is called the escargot of 1954. this one's really cool. you may not be able tosee it, but the surfaces are actually, like, grainy. it looks smooth, there'sa beautiful shape, beautiful curved lines. everything's very finished here, shiny.
it is organic, though,but in the description of the lamp itself, it has texture. again, i love that ideathat this thing that looks visually minimalist and rid of all excess, actually has that texture. so kanye bought this lamp for $150,000. and it was very seminal inhis thinking about yeezus. the next section is blackatlantic embodiment,
differing consciousness, soblack atlantic embodiment, differing consciousness. so by black atlantic, i mean, where we are. i mean, where my parents are from. so the caribbean, new york,where basquiat's from, puerto rico, haiti, brooklyn. so in the black atlantic, spirituality is very fluid, very liminal.
so again, you kind of have this collision of european-base sensibilitieswith salt-of-the-earth, on-the-ground feeling or practices. what i'm getting at here isremaking european religions. so hold that thought. this mask, this head maskthat kanye wears during yeezus was partially influencedby this fashion designer whose name i will tell you,because i wasn't familiar with this designer.
it was designed by maison martin margiela. you see it here on the runway, and yeezy is wearing it during the show. what's usually left out of the discourse is that this mask looksvery black atlantic. so, yes, it was made by ahaute couture fashion house, but it also emulateshere this practitioner of candomble, which is a black atlantic spiritual practice from brazil.
so you see the visualsemblance, it's clearly not just about european hautecouture design factors. in another shot from the yeezus show, you see yeezy wearing a headdressthat has feathers on it. it has a great visualsemblance to santeria ebbo. so ebbo, e-b-b-o. this is the sacrifice of chickens. it's the sacrifice of animals or something to please the gods, to please the deities.
on the right, you'relooking at ana mendieta's thinking about ebbo sacrifice, and she's covered one ofher friends with feathers. this is from about 1972while mendieta was in iowa, and we see here, yeezy, 2013. other black atlantic referencesthat come out of yeezus include references to deities like eshu-elegba so eshu-elegba is a deity,
we think of him as a trickster. he is the deity of the marketplace, like anywhere currency is exchanged and things move really fast. there's a lot of likenessbetween, like, the stock exchange and the markets in west africa. they're the same. you know things move really fast. this is eshu's domain.
and he's also the king of double talk. he's a punner. he says things in many ways. we know yeezy. he speaks with a very sharp tongue. he's a lyricist. he's got skills in that way as well. this is one of his outfits. you see him holding a staff.
eshu-elegba holds a staff. here you see it resting. it's resting here,there's one resting here. there's one resting here. there's one here. it's really uncanny how yeezy is thinking about these orisha. people aren't reallywriting about this yet or thinking about it.
i think it's just a questionof experience and knowledge of these traditions. here are two more shots. eshu has a ton of energy. you don't want to mess with him. he's very vindictive, very strong, and he's got like a hot temper. red is his color. he'll snap at you in a second,
but then he'll turnaround and be very nice. so let's look at yeezychanneling, what i think. i think he's channeling eshu here. this is the famous sway interview. we're just going to watch thefirst minute and 33 seconds. again, remember eshu is fiery. he's red, and i've been showingyou actually eshu petro. so there are two, eachdeity has two sides, and i'm talking about eshu
in regard to haitian culture, so voodoo. eshu has two sides. he has a petro, and he has a rata. so petro is red. petro is that (grunting), really fiery. and rata is the kind oflike calmer, you know. yeezy always jokes that he'sgemini, but most of the time, he's petro, he's red. many of you know this interview,
but it's a great example of kanye kind of being fiery, channeling eshu. - i am standing up, and iam telling you, i am warhol. i am the number one most impactfulartist of our generation. i'm shakespeare in the flesh,walt disney, nike, google. now who's going to be themedici family and stand up and let me create more, ordo you want to marginalize me 'til i'm out of my moment. - or why don't you empoweryourself and don't need them
and do it yourself? - how sway? - take a few steps back to - you ain't got the answers, man! you ain't got the answers. you ain't got the answers, sway. - kanye, if you was - i've been doing this more than you. - doing what more than me?
come on, chill out, bro. - you ain't got the answers.- kanye, relax. i'm asking you a question. - you ain't been doing the education. you ain't been doing the education. you don't have the answers though - calm down. - because you trying to giveme advice about something. - no, no, no.
- you ain't got the answers. you ain't spent 13 milliondollars of your own money trying to empower yourself. - you're absolutely right,but i have spent hundreds of thousands and puttingout clothing lines at a smaller degree. all i'm asking you. - it ain't no ralph though. it ain't ralph level.
- let me ask you this. - what's the name of your clothing line? we don't know. - kanye, that's because i lost money. - exactly, and i can losemoney on a higher level, too. don't think just because - hold up, hold up. let me finish my question, dog. - man, no, man.- hear the question, man.
- you don't have the answers. - i'm asking you for the answer. it's a question. - that's petro, that iseshu, and he's right. he's being hard on abrother, but he's right. let's look at jean-michel. jean-michel, for the mostpart, he's eshu also, but he's rata eshu, and in this video, maybe you'll see what i mean.
it just so happens that thisinterview has a blue palette. rata is blue, petro is red. so he's rata eshu here. so rata eshu, petroeshu, both talking about trying to blow up, trying to be an agent, trying to benefit from the system, not let the system keep you down, but with a very differentfervor, both eshu. what's really interesting aboutbasquiat is most of the time
he performs as rata eshu, sothe cool tranquil side of eshu, but in his paintings,he more often than not manifests the petro. so you're looking here at a work called untitled, self-portrait,which is really interesting, that it's untitled, self-portrait, 1982. this is a gigantic work,which i need to note because we can't tellwith the slide convention, but it's something like 7feet tall and 9 feet long.
that's pretty confrontational. it's not just aboutthe palette and the way that he renders the figure and the energy. size matters here, it'slike eshu, like very strong. again, we're in the worldof red, the body of red, the heat, the fire of eshu. here you can see it. so you get a sense, this islike barnet newman filled in. it's that zip that used tomake people attack the canvas.
it's that zip exploded intothis sea of eshu energy with the figure returned, obviously. here you get a sense,this is another work. this is so interesting to me because i kind of just realized this. this is technically calledboy, dog, and johnny pump, something like that. it's from about 1982. i'm not looking at the yearright now, but again, basquiat.
now you see on the leftthis is eshu-elegba, you know, some devotee painted this. but you see him with the red,and you see him with the dog. and you see him with thestaff, which is so cool to me because no one has like pointed that out. look at basquiat's hands. i mean, it's like he'sfingers and accoutrement at the same time, but the dog's here. it's red.
he's aware of these references. this is no mistake. we just haven't caught up. we have, but many critics have not. this is a work he actually calls eshu. e-x-u is the braziliancandomble way to spell eshu. eshu is called many thingsthroughout the black atlantic. he's called eshu-elegba insome parts of the caribbean. he's called exu, e-x-u in brazil.
he's called papa legba in haiti. we have to remember that basquiat is puerto rican and haitian. so he's all black atlantic,and he's conscious of these various nuances ofthe black atlantic experience, such as naming, andthat's very eshu as well, to be fluent in these sort of nuances. here's another work thatis called, profit, 1982. it's profit, like make a profit, f-i-t,
instead of prophet, like the prophet that came down, whatever. again, we all know how adept basquiat is at weaving language, at turning language. i mean, he rolled withtaggers early in his career. he remained a taggerfor most of his career. it's been well-written abouthow he brings that energy into his canvas, but eshu's here. you know, he's red, youknow, the words, wordplay,
jumble explosion, whereaskanye stays with this kind of like christian thing. i haven't heard him say eshu-elegba. he's always saying i am jesus, you know. but we have a similar attachment, attachment's not the right word. but i guess a similar trying to negotiate thechallenge of being an artist. basquiat recognized that he was the artist
of his generation, buthe didn't shout about it. he shouted about it,maybe in his paintings, but he's very ambivalent,and by the way, at least the way he performs is ambivalent. this woman jordana saggesejust wrote a great book on basquiat, talking about his ambivalence that you should check out, and in short, ambivalence for me here is more of the rata self-performative,but yeezy's hyped.
when it comes to thinkingabout this negotiation. and the last image that i'mshowing you from this section was really, it was just haunting to me. anyway, in santeria,which is the afro-cuban, black atlantic ritual practice,deities enter devotees from the head. so they come down from thehead, through the skull. people oftentimes writeabout basquiat's fixation on the mask or the heads and rightly so,
people speak about how hewas injured as a child, and he was into gray's anatomyand all this kind of stuff. he loved leonardo da vinci,loved all the italians. people write about that ashow he got into figuration, but i think there's alsosomething about his awareness of the kind of sacred position of the head in black atlantic ritual structures. this is a self-portrait again, all black, and i was just struckwith the visual similitude
of yeezy here, again with thatmask, again red and black. i think of this as kind of a metaphor for that black atlantic energyentering through the head. so i'm actually doing pretty good at time, but this is a long section. so we're in part four. i've entitled this section, italy black. it's called italy black:renaissance to futurism. so you're looking at pimpc, who has, unfortunately,
passed away, but his lyricswere used at the start of jay's, sorry, fuckwith me you know i got it. he sings the first stanza,which is about africans. this idea of africans, youknow, we're all africans, celebrating african heritage, african men, all this sort of thing. i think that is profound in a way, this kind of acknowledgementof africa by jay, which perhaps we don'thave as much with kanye,
but it doesn't stop there. let me just finish the africa thing. so jay mentions it. and africa appears. okay, so afro-italy, justremember africa, italy. so here's the africa part. you're looking at a workcalled untitled angel by jean-michel basquiat from about 1981, and again, we have a massive painting.
i'm arguing here, in short,that we have basquiat aligning this sort of africansensibility with the king. so we've got the crown. we all know basquiat'sassociated with the crown, et cetera, et cetera. and then here you just havea (speaking foreign language) dancer from cameroon, but there's this visualsemblance between the two forms. i mean basquiat's angels'wings are like heavy with
too much raffia, too manyfeathers, et cetera, et cetera. it has the motion of the(speaking foreign language) drum. basquiat's looking atthese sort of things. he's thinking about these sort of things, but he's also thinking about italy. that's why i started withfuck with me you know i got it because it starts withafrica, and then it comes back to italy, and i'll comeback to that in a second. here you're looking at tintoretto's
the origin of the milky way. it's from, again, no notes in front of me. i think it's from about1507 or something like that. i should look becauseit's going to bother me. 1575, so i was off. during this era, that mattersbecause when we get to about 1575, we're no longerin renaissance proper, we're starting to be inmannerism, which has more lack of concern for proper perspective
and as a result, more motion. so tintoretto's origin of the universe. so i argue that basquiathas collapsed this painting, the figures and thedynamism of this painting into untitled angel. so first we can just, it'lltake me too long to go into it, but trust me. trust me about it, i write. we have the same palette firstof all, first and foremost.
let me tell you about theorigin of the universe very quickly if you don't know the story. they used the roman namesinstead of the greek names because the romans takeit from the greeks. we have in the center, juno. we have flying into thepicture plane with the angel and the black eagle, jupiter. and we have jupiter holdingin his arms, baby hercules. i laugh, i think that'sso cute, but the problem
with baby hercules isthat he's only half god. baby hercules is half man, halfgod, and he's jupiter's son. so jupiter has to flyin with baby hercules to suckle the breast of juno,so that he can become a god. part of my argument isthat we have all of these very complicated identitiesand sexualities, et cetera, compressed into this work by basquiat, which is a self-portrait, basically. basquiat has spectrum sexuality,
but if you look at the wing for instance, you see thepinks, the yellows, the whites, the same tonalities. if you look here at thispillow, this region here is reproduced here in thisquadrant of the picture plane, so i have to spend a lot oftime with heavy visual analysis to argue this through. it's in an article ihave coming out in 2017 at bucknell press,
so read it. i'll give it to you when i'm teaching. i'll make it assigned reading, so anyway. all the dynamism, all that. kanye is into italy. we're looking here at a still from power. i corrected myself again with that date because the tintoretto isfrom 1575, which is closer to mannerism, where you have more dynamism
and things flying in. so in this still from power,you start to see some of that mannerist dynamism coming in as angels fly in from all sides. power's only like a minute and 50 seconds, and i believe, well. it's a precursor to someof these ideas of yeezus, and he's working with an italian artist, like an italianrenaissance man, basically.
his name is marco brambilla. i'm not up on these haute couture people, so i always have to lookat my notes for that. i'm not one of those, kind of. correggio, you're lookingat correggio, 1520 to 23. this is vision of st. john the evangelist. it's a fresco in a dome. you see that dynamismthat i was talking about in origin of the universe.
you see the dynamism of things coming into the center, in power. it comes out of thisrenaissance tradition. i saw you have fliers togo to rome, go if you can. i mean, you just walkaround italy like this. it's just amazing. every time you go ina church, you look up, you're going to see something like that in florence, in rome.
and it comes into yeezus. i didn't see yeezus. did anyone see it? any people lucky enough? lucky luck. this was part of a section,i guess the jesus section. again, there were fivesections with different titles that i don't rememberoff the top of my head, but here you have it.
the oculus of a duomo inflorence or something. so basquiat was also really into italy. you see kanye with a basquiat t-shirt. it was funny. i was speaking to my nephew, and he's like not into art at all. he's a cameraman at espn,and he just has like orange and blue blood. he loves the mets, everything mets.
but he was so interested,he said, you know gen, all of the rappers i likeare talking about basquiat. you guys probably know this, but basquiat is mentionedin like over 20 songs. you can go here and lookat all the references. i left that for you so you can see it. just google that, it's pretty cool. (snaps) oh, i forgot to tell you.
the johnny pump, the boy,that painting, that was boy, dog, and johnny pump was bought by carmello from the nicks? (audience mumbling) anthony, yeah, he owns that painting. basquiat is like, swiss beats, the rapper, has a basquiat painting. jay has a basquiat painting. i don't think kanye does,but he's being collected.
he's just this icon, andthere's a lot of mention of warhol, too, in a lot of hip hop songs. again, we know that basquiatand warhol collaborated often. here's again the bridge back to jay, wearing so many images of him. this is just about fashion. i'm not going to gointo that, move forward. basquiat, heavy into italy. he collaborated with francesco clemente,
the sicilian painter, who's still here. he's in his 60s. there was a famous, itwas called menage a trois. there was a book written about it, basquiat collaborating withwarhol and francesco clemente. warhol spent a lot of time in italy. here's jay and bey in italy during, i think it may have been their honeymoon. kanye again is an italianate also.
you're looking at himand kim with valentino, a famous fashion designer,and also the president of valentino's company on the right. we know that they go married in italy, and her gown was designed byan italian, riccardo tisci, who is of the house of givenchy. they also got married inflorence at fort belvedere. the thing is everybodywasn't pumped about this. this villa was owned by the medici family
and built by the medicifamily, and one descendant said that they were makingthis site too sensational. this is just an outlineof their wedding plans, of this compound in florence. so kanye's interests in italy kind of starts as an art student. he doesn't complete a degree in the arts, but he takes arts courses. i really liked this little clipthat i'm going to show you.
it's from mtv, and it'sfrom like the mid-2000s, and he's reflecting on hisdevelopment as an art student. - this artwork right here isn't something that's recent, right? (mumbling negative response) when did you do some ofthese pieces right here? - back in '94, '95, mostof these are like, yeah. - okay, what's this, you gota blue ribbon on this one. - that's because i won.
- [sway] congratulations. - yeah, i think i was always sarcastic, like trying to get a rise out of people, tell yourself like, as yousee, the colors are like real freaky for lack of a better word. i made the title be all youshould, this is non-alcoholic. i try to always havesomething that connects more than glass. this is my take on a glass, you know.
or this right here, this cigarette. and this is one of thehardest things to draw, it's like smoke and ash, andi did this with water and ink. - do you actuallyremember when you did it? like do you remember actuallygoing through the process of actually drawing this out? - vaguely, certain drawings i remember because i remember if iwas late before a project, and i was doing it on the train,
or i remember, grabbinga ruler to do the lines on the emma till piece. i remember this. i was really into anime and japanese art. - so you gave yourself a littlejapanese look right there. - yeah, i had a littleextra, like chinese eyes. and good hair, that's real. that's for my grandmother. - this one is kind of eerie.
- okay, i want to stop, sorry. stop there, anyways, it's spooky. it's kind of that kehinde downseries look to that image. but i want to stop at that oneand just freeze on this work. still with that italian theme. i have kanye again with his self-portrait, which is kind of likeheadless, just kind of like floating in space, and i haveit against parmigianino's self-portrait of 1524.
i just thought this was reallyfitting, this comparison because vasari, who waslike one of the great first writers about art, in 1524, when the artist was about 21, like kanye's age whenhe made that portrait, vasari said that parmigianino painted this just before his departurefrom rome in 1524 when he was 21 years old to show his skill in the subtleties of art.
he was fascinated by his ownreflection in the mirror, and so he decided toreproduce it very exactly. so this idea of beingfascinated by his own reflection is very kanye. this kind of comes full circle. this is this year. kanye received an honorarydoctorate from the chicago institute of art, so veryfitting to kind of see his start as this artist interestedin sketching and drawing
to where he is now. again, he's a renaissance man himself. here's a photo keeping upwith this italian theme. we have him with, this is from vogue. again, i don't know these fashion people. this is riccardo tisci. he's the one that designed kim's dress. vogue, problematic photo (laughing) i'm not even sure.
first of all, why isthe most beautiful woman in the image on the floor? it's like lila cavite, younever put her on a floor, but there we are. that's my segue into thisproblematic relationship that kanye has with vanessa beecroft, who i actually, i love her. it's hard to say thatnow, but there was a time when i loved her work.
vanessa beecroft, asyou may or may not know, is an artist, half-english, half-italian and has been a long-timecollaborator with kanye since about 2006, and we'll see a bit ofthis as we go forward. now, she started off reallyjust working with white models, but over the years, she'sbeen here and there dabbling with making arrangementswith just black models. this is a recent image from vogue.
her approach to positioning the body is part of her fashionspread in this vogue issue. you see here she'sflanked by black models. this is her work ponti sisters. i forget what number it is. the thing is you may or maynot know that vanessa beecroft names all of her works vb something, so vanessa beecroft something. this is one she did in about 2002,
playing with black and white. so black and white models,black and white set. remember adolf loos'shouse for josephine baker. the ponti thing is coming from gio ponti, who made, basically, thetwin towers of milan. this is the pirelli tire factory building. it was made in the mid 50s. it's like the mies van derrohe equivalent in milan. the kind of striped linesthat we see in ponti sisters
comes from this kind of reference. and as i just said,she's also thinking back to a work like this, adolf loos's piece. this is vb 47 from 2002. it's black women, strewnon the floor in venice, in a venice church. she's playing with blackas a color, i guess and these kind of contrasts she makes. she's darkening the skins of black models,
and then she leaves one natural, i guess. this is what she does. i find it beautiful,but you know, obviously, there's a whole kind ofunpacking and discourse that i would argue that she needs to be very careful of and also figureout a way how to integrate it into how she speaks about her work. she does not speak abouther work appropriately, in my opinion.
this is the type of presentationthat she became known for before she started workingwith the black bodies. this is the famouspiece at the guggenheim, which is vb number, idon't have the number, but it was from 1998. she does this over and over again. now the thing withbeecroft, she calls them vb. vanessa beecroft, they're all about her, whether black or white, male or female,
they're all about her. they're all about, you know. she says that she'sworking out her history with eating issues, eatingdisorders, et cetera. it's personal. she's working it out bymaking these groupings, which are based on discipline and rigidity because to be an anorexic andbulimic as she says she was, she was overwhelmingly rigid with herself.
so she's thinking aboutthese ideas supposedly in the presentation of the body. now kanye west, as isaid, has been working with beecroft since about 2006. her aesthetic has infiltratedhis fashion presentations totally, totally, totally, and has also infiltratedand affected his videos. so here, this is yeezy number4 from madison square garden. it's just a detail.
and this is another beecroft from 1996. you see the same sort of coloring here. this is a shot from yeezus, the grouping, the monochromatic browns that we will feel from beecroft. here's one of the adidas fashion weeks. i think this is number 1with again the beecroft. so it's clear thatshe's rubbed off on him. and here's a wider shot ofthe madison square garden.
this one, again, there's alittle loosening that happens. people are sitting. i don't actually know if these are audience members ormodels, but you still see that rigidity in the background. i like how someone'slike breaking that open with the power signs and things. now here's a still from runaway. vanessa beecroft was theartistic director on runaway,
which is, as you know, from 2008, right. the beauty of runaway is, again,it shows kanye's innovation that we have like a 45 andthen like a 12 inch version. so we have a short clip, then we have that beautiful, long version. this is a scene. to me, when i first sawit, i was like does he know vanessa beecroft? the very first time i saw this video
because it's her soft color handling. she's the artistic director on this. it's also her rigidpresentation of the body. this, in fact, is a workthat beecroft did in 2003, which is five years beforecollaborating with west on runaway. so the table's there. this is called vb 52, andit was done in turin, italy. a glass table with 30 nude models
from previous performances. they were all related to aristocrats, which is interesting, all of her models. she says that the womenall followed her diet for three consecutive days. they ate foods that wereserved and divided by color. again, she's working out this history of denial and rigidity. this is where it gets tricky.
remember in the imagethat i just showed you, the models were likearistocrats that worked with beecroft before. this is a work that is so, wow, in need of analysis and unpacking. it's vb 65 from 2010, andhere she's taken the same kind of long table that we saw in runaway, that we saw in the turinpiece, and she's surrounded it with african migrants thathave arrived to italy.
they're undocumented. we know today that they're in camps. i'm not really up on likehow well italy's handling the crisis, but these arepeople that are very vulnerable, and she's positioning them in her thing. this is vb. this is vanessa beecroft. so we know how complicated that is. this is vb number 65, and mind you,
you can look online, butthere's an audience of like, basically, white italianpeople looking at these men, eating, they're wearing suits. most of them have no shoes on. they have no utensils, sothey're eating with their hands. this is kanye west's collaborator. that's why it's a little bit difficult. basquiat famously wouldwear expensive suits with no shoes on to make a point.
it was kind of this, he was an agent of his self-presentation. he's affronting thesekind of critics that would push up against him,diminishing his genius. but i have that against thispresentation of black men in suits, no shoes, of vanessa beecroft's. you don't need me to reallybreak that down for you. now more basquiat. here's a still.
now i don't know whatarea this is in runaway, i don't remember the queue, buthere's a still from runaway. again, the color scheme, thefeathers, the whole, to me, essence of this passagereminds me of basquiat. so maybe beecroft is thinking about him talking to west, i don't know. it's also just a testament to the power of basquiat's visuality. so let me just show youthe beginning of runaway.
as most of you do know,there are two versions, the short version and the long version. (classical choral singing) so, that's all i wanted to show you. this idea of runaway, andthis theme that comes back is woven throughout the video. it's the image of the slave. you're looking here at glenn ligon, the great black u.s. artistof installation and prints.
this is from his series. it's just the runawayseries that he did in 1993. in it, he asks 10 friends to describe him. the 10 friends wrote updifferent descriptions of him. if any of your friends, if you asked any of your friends to do that, they'd all havelittle nuanced differences. they may have some overlapsbut nuanced differences. he took all of thesedescriptions, and he put it with
this kind of standard imageof a print of a black man as runaway slave. so this is what wouldhappen in the 19th century when white slave masterslost their slaves. like, yay, ran away. you know, they would getthem back by doing these most wanted postersthat were very generic. there's no picture of a slave. they would use these generalized forms
with these kind of descriptions. i think it's pretty cool. that's at work. you know this slaverecuperation of slave imagery and slave narrative is part of runaway. if you want to read more about this there's a great bookcalled bound to appear by huey copeland that dealswith all of these kind of slave images.
now, this idea also, you know,kanye has all of this fire. kanye is a bad boy. kanye is, you know, he does his own thing. he's a buck. if you think about bound 2,the way that he's getting it on with kim, it's like this mobile, what we call the mobile buck. it's a stereotype thatcomes out of the slave era. so we have uncle toms,we have mobile bucks,
we have mammys, all this stuff. so the mobile buck hasa lot of sexual prowess, has a big sexual appetite,wants to conquest everything. this is a french figurethat melvin van peebles explored in the early 70s sweetsweetback's baadasssss song. i consider kanye's lookingat sequences like this from the film and thinkingabout, like, bound 2 and thinking about the slave iconography or gestures of runaway.
so as in runaway, melvin van peebles (sirens blaring) is constantly running in this film, running through allthese different terrains, being chased by differentcatchers or pursuers, let's put it that way. the cool thing here also is that it's an earth, wind, and fire soundtrack, which is a very freeform soundtrack.
it's like just open, you know. it's very repetitive,there's like a drive to it. there's a tension thatcomes in with beats going in the other direction. so this loops over andover throughout the film as you see melvin, is this mario? mario's the son, right? yeah, melvin, just likewalking through all of these underbelly areas of society,being chased by the man.
it's such a cool film. then you have this sambrackige overlay of animation. you don't want him to get caught. it's like whether you love or hate kanye, i would bet that you don'twant him to get caught. sometimes i don't likekanye, most of the time i do, but i always want him to win. so let's just look at a fewmore images, almost done with this section, andthen we'll conclude.
the next image, and iwon't show you the video. let's just save it. you're looking at, this is black skinhead. it's from yeezus. at some point in black skinhead, kanye, well, he's morphing a lot. it's interesting in thisvideo that there's a warning that comes on, if you haveepilepsy you shouldn't watch it because there's a lotof flash in this video,
but he morphs into thiscreature in the film, which we see here. it gets us still on the italian thing. it gets us to what i arguethis idea of futurism. we're still in the italian thing, from renaissance to futurism. in futurism, this guy,marinetti, who was like the ring leader, thefounder of italian futurism, came up with thischaracter called mafarka.
mafarka was a black futurist. he was, this rendering isnot really true to form. it was said, like, he could fly. marinetti describes him withairplane-like qualities. he's like a sexual machine also. everything about, noteverything, but futurism was very much againabout angles and motion and the mechanical. so here in this image, yousee marinetti designing
a futurist suit with theangles and the lines. ironically, this is a bit of an inverse, but ironically, this iscalled the anti-neutral suit. the futurist suits weresupposed to have bright colors, so angles and bright colors, whereas here, i see some kind of similarrhythm, but west is keeping the palette muted. i should have gone directlyto this image from marfarka. this is boccioni's uniqueforms of continuity in space
of 1913, a futurist model of energy and the striving man, machine-like, mechanical,with they called these, he's supposed to have radiatinglines coming off of him like jet propulsion. and this is kind of the way that marinetti describes mafarka. i like this profile of kanye,again, from black skinhead that we see here.
it's all, of course, also indialogue with other moments of the black body as mechanized. of course, grace jones here,the famous citroen campaign that she did from the early 80s. we have jean-paul goude,the french artist that jones had a baby with, you know mechanizing her, stretching out her bodyby taking negatives and, basically, elongatingthem to get body to do this. her body's not really doing this.
it's a manipulation. goude also took thispicture of kim, famously, a couple of years ago. and here's amber rose,also, reenacting it. la la la la, grace jones. janelle, we're in thephase of futurism, again, particularly afro-futurism,which many of you know about. it's this genre that kindof started developing in the early 2000s.
well, it goes all the way back to sun ra, but in the visual arts,it starts to come up in the early 2000s, withartists like laylah ali. here's alec wek atfashion week, mechanized. she's wearing a bra thathas like technology in it. she's wearing the camera in her head, and of course, we havewafaa bilal's project where he had the camerainstalled in his head. so, machination.
sun ra is the father ofafro-futurism, the great freeform jazz musician bornin birmingham, alabama, about 1919 i guess and ends up proclaiming he's from saturn. never appears out of egyptian,outer space wardrobe. he's celebrated as anavant-garde jazz musician, freeform, innovator. sonic youth, (mumblingartist name) loves him. there was a show calledthe shadows took shape
at the studio museum of harlem in 2014 that studied afro-futurism. my point here is that thisis a year after yeezus, where you have this dispersal of visuality of kanye in something like black skinhead looking like this futurist. he's clearly thinking about sun ra. erica goes through this, et cetera. here's a shot from yeezus, you know,
the moon, all of theseangles and energies. okay, pumzi. so it's there. but i like this, given that kanye, again, unfortunately has worked himself out. i thought it wasinteresting, all this energy, and this idea of the futurist life without sleep proclamation. sleep is to be eliminatedif the european futurists
have their way. in marinetti's opinion,real progressives must fight against, theymust have all the time. they must lead a sleepless life. you know, west needs to notactually heed that, i guess. okay, this is the last section,black skinhead, black punk. coming back to basquiatagain, this comparison between west and basquiat. i think that basquiat kindof captures this energy
of the black skinhead in a different way, maybe a more authentic way in that he's on the ground in thelate 70s of new york city. so he's part of this momentof black and white together. you know he still had the, just the straight edge, the straight edge skinheadswho were mostly white, separatists, et cetera, butthen many of the skinheads would proclaim black and white together.
they were in dialoguewith ska and also many of the early punks. basquiat was part of that. here's the opening ofblack skinhead by kanye, which has a big visualityagain with laylah ali, who's like kanye, likethis idea of extremism, thinking about mob mentality. you know, fascistmentality that gives rise to kind of these skinheadand other group mob moves.
here's another, perhapsmore authentic sense of black skinhead andpunk from the late 70s. this is bad brains. just a very different energythan what kanye's doing. i guess i get we need toanalyze that a little bit more. i think he's being a little too, it's hard for me to, accept this notion that he's dealing with because he's so commercialand materialistic,
which is fine, but there'sa different kind of energy to all of this, but we'll go forward. it has to do a lot with group dynamics, and kanye is oftentimesseparated from the group and elevated from the others. if he does present groupings together, it's based on vanessabeecroft's aesthetic, which i find to be, youknow, not very satisfying because again, it takes awayfrom this kind of richness
of african togethermovements of black skinhead together movements. i just think that this ideaof kanye's group aesthetics needs to be looked at more closely. i was going to show you a little clip from (speaking foreign language) which i argue is like one ofthe original punk performances. we'll just watch itquickly because it's nice to end on an up note,a bit of heaviness here
in the discussion. again, a lot of my life isspent doing west african dance, and i think that as an art historian, it helps me think aboutthis idea of making work from the ground up inopposition from being separated from it, so this is me, videotaping. i'm not showing you anythingof me dancing, per se, but i'm here videotaping it. this time in conakry, west africa.
i talk about (speaking foreign language) as this kind of original, like mosh pit, original punk expression,black punk expression. (energetic tribal percussion music) (cheering) so her wig comes off, she'sstill going, it doesn't matter. whatever (laughing) she's going to do her thing. this is called strong man dance.
(speaking foreign language)is called strong man dance. so she's a woman going for it,and she's soloing right now, but this is all about being together. you'll see that in a minute. you come in, everybodycomes in, support you. this is, this is, this is much better thanbeecroft togetherness. here's one more we'll see. so my wish is that westwould start thinking
about these kind of arrangements. (cheering and drumming) again. (energetic drumming music) (applauding) thank you. any questions? thank you for inviting me here today. i'm so happy to be able to talk to you.
i look forward to workingwith you next semester. yes? (audience member mumbling) - [male audience member]that was a lot to cover. - sorry (laughing) - [male audience member]no, no, it was great. it was really great. there's a couple ofpaintings, like in between. i think it was in thesecond part of your lecture,
where i think it said griot in it? - well, there's basquiatpainting gold griot from 1984. - [male audience member]no, there's one that's black background, and then there'sg-r, and then he marks it, and there's like an oand an o on top of it, or an r on top of that. and then it has the headdress- halo. yes, that was called, iforget what one that is, but it's probably calleduntitled, as most of his work is.
- [male audience member] sowhen you dissect basquiat to a more modernalconversation and the idea of always trying tofind that next basquiat, where do you, where do you see that going? - oh the next basquiat as in an artist? - [male audience member]yeah, because i'm constantly hearing these labels,where people are going, oh, this is the next basquiat,
or this is the next basquiat. where do you think that idea? - i don't think there is evergoing to be a next basquiat. he's a factor of his cultural moment. that's why i don't wantto give you the impression that i'm beating up kanyeor something like that. kanye's doing his thing. yeah, and i don't love everything he does. the whole, maybe youguys saw q-tip say that,
you know he's supporting trump, and q-tip doesn't wantto come out and be like, what are you doing? q-tip said, and i love this about q-tip, i'm going to talk to him on the side because i love that man. that's a model for friendship,not throwing this man, he's a friend, right? there's no other basquiat.
kanye said that he'slike the shape changer for his generation;well, basquiat was that for his generation. there will never be. there's not another one. basquiat's not a god either. i have a lot of problems with him. both basquiat and kanye, (stammering) i don't have enough time to unpack it,
so i won't say it, butbasquiat is not awesome. he is awesome but not, too. no one is, right? - [female audience guest]so thinking about the final question and coming to the image of the is there a moment in that sequence of that you can show to kanyethat still gives room for his ego? no, i'm serious.
for like a powerful central, male figure because i think thatthere is a model for that, then we can talk tokanye, but without that, i'm not sure how it fits into his world. - well, the thing that'sfunny is that i, you know, he can do whatever he wants. i don't think that he needsto do the african thing to be legit, which issomething, but if we want to, connect kanye with that, itdoesn't seem to be a concern
of his, but let's say itwas, let's say he said to us, i want to connect to africa,i don't know how or whatever. the thing about (speakingforeign language) is that there is space for his ego because those women were soloing. so first of all, (speakingforeign language) is called strong man dance. that's how it translates,but i showed you women. just because it's calledstrong man's dance,
you see women being agents,being strong, and innovating, but you see in the frameworkof that, there's a solo. after everyone solos, whichi think is so beautiful, people from the periphery,everyone watching, everyone clapping, they all come in. it's like this embrace,it's like this flooding of the space; it's the support. so kanye can do like the fliest solo, and then just as inpower, where the bodies
are floating into him, youcan have that same thing in (speaking foreignlanguage), that's what happens. so if you took what you just saw in (speaking foreign language),and put it on this plane, it's the same thing as power. it's the same thing as the oculus. it's the same thing exceptthat in european models, it's like the peripherydoesn't touch the center. - [female audience member] yeah,do you think he's too stuck
in euclidean space? - i don't know. yeah, i don't know. i don't have any answers,i'm just thinking about it. but that's a great question, is he too stuck in euclidean space? i think, i don't see himquestioning beecroft enough. that's my, i don't havea problem with kanye, but that's my thing, you know.
beecroft is lovely. her work is visually beautiful. it has a lot of problems, and i don't see what he's doing addressing those problems at all. that's coming from someonewho wants to be an agent of his own destiny, and hisagency is affected by blackness. so, you know. - [female questioner] didyou get a chance to see
beyonce and kendrick'sperformance at the bet awards when they performed freedom together? because that dance,(speaking foreign language), it looked like at the end, at the finale, where the music is just breaking down, and they're just getting into it together, it looks like beyonceand kendrick are doing that strong man dancing. i was just thinking thatbeyonce's style of performance
kind of lends itself a lot moreto do that community dancing that you were talking about. so i just wondered if you hadanything to say about that? - no, i have to say, how do i put this? my musical tastes are alittle bit different than that so i don't spend a lot oftime watching beyonce videos. i should, i would to study,but i missed the bet awards. i need to look at thatto do a thorough job at what i'm doing, i'm just not there yet.
so i can't really speak toyou about beyonce's aesthetics because i know them, but not enough. - [female questioner] yeah,because i think beecroft even accused of her bitingher style for the lemonade video and stuff like that. - but isn't it great thatbeecroft can have some kind of, she needs to, she's fading, right. so yay, all of the sudden,now everything is like well, beyonce stole my art.
that's like the warhol basquiat thing. warhol is fading. people say basquiat was exploiting warhol, basquiat was the best thingthat ever happened to warhol with those ugly paintings theydid before basquiat's death, they're terrible. - [female questioner] one other question. at the very, very beginning,you showed a griot, a dancer that was a maledressing as a female.
- i didn't know that, iwas like behind the camera, i saw it like when igot home, i was looking at my computer, and my ex waslike do you know that's a man? i had no idea. - [female questioner] solike, is that not then something that you'rekind of familiar with in that setting? because like, from myperspective, in my community, we call people likethat two-spirit people,
people who cross out - yeah, that's part of african stuff. - [female questioner]yeah, i was just wondering if there was an equivalent? - no, it's a big thing. it's not that, i was just,to tell you the truth. he was dancing, i waslike, i can't believe what i'm seeing, the call and response, how beautiful this dancer is.
i wasn't even thinking about his sex. i was just in the, do you see that, this is my favorite dance, look at what he's doing, i gotta learn that. oh my god, beautiful. there's a whole historyof men dancing women, of men getting dressedup in west african dance and dancing as women.
the (speaking foreignlanguage) dance of nigeria is a big one of that, wherethe butt has pillows in it, just like he did. two-spirit people, two-sidedpeople, all of that, eshu in black atlanticexperience, he's two sided. a lot of gay people takeeshu as their deity, that's all there. - [female questioner] isit like ezruli dantor, she's like a patron of lesbians as well?
- i don't know thatactually but ezruli dantor is a loa from haiti, andi wasn't aware of that, but i'm sure, yeah. wow, it's hot in here. i feel like we're in church. - [female guest] the musicfrom yeezus, a lot of it comes from saul williams' niggy tardust. are you talking about that relationship? - well, i'm more, no, i haven'tbeen speaking about that.
i'm kind of talking aboutthe project as, like, a continuum, the projectas a continuous space. you can't listen to one song. that's kind of my focus andhow it unfolds through time. that's been my focus for myanalysis of the sonic space. - [female guest] i justfeel like there might, i don't know, i'm thinkingabout the relationship between like samford's work,saul's work, and yeezus and that, that continuum.
- that's an interesting one, yeah. i'll look at that, thank you. anyone else, thank you.The Coloring Agent In Drawing Media Is Called