Friday, Apr 25, 2014 05:55 am est

ARTS ISSUE: Musicians adorn themselves with art history

Posted on December 5, 2013 | by Alex Greenberger


Last year, Kanye West showed up to a concert wearing a hoodie with Caravaggio’s Baroque painting “Entombment of Christ” on it, and nobody thought twice about it. Looking back on that sweatshirt, it seems more like a prophetic footnote in music history than just another fashionable outfit selection choice.

This July became one of the biggest months for art history. First, there was Jay-Z’s now-famous “Picasso Baby” performance at Pace Gallery. For the six-hour long performance, Jay-Z danced with the art world’s hottest insiders — from performance artist Marina Abramovic, to beloved art critic Jerry Saltz, to “Girls” star Jemima Kirke — and even threw in a lyric about the “Mona Lisa.”

No less than three days later, Lady Gaga announced her own venture into the art world with “ARTPOP,” an album intended to “reverse Warholian odyssey.” The album includes collaborations with art star and provocateur Jeff Koons and, of course, Abramović.

The art and music worlds have always been in dialogue with each other, but art has never been used like this before. Now, pop stars are using art to be extravagant. In other words, art is the new bling for pop stars. It’s a means of promoting self-expression, but it’s also a way of showing wealth and status.

Using art as bling is not necessarily intended to be negative. Having dancers parade as Koons’ “Gazing Balls” during Lady Gaga’s VMAs performance is not meant to insult society. Instead, pop stars are interested in art in the same way film directors are interested in having musicians act in their movies — they like art for the artists’ talent, and they like the spectacle of big art. So until Miley Cyrus starts twerking on an Andy Warhol silkscreen and calls it performance art, art historians and music critics have nothing to worry about.

A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, Dec. 5 print edition. Alex Greenberger is film editor. Email him at


profile portrait
Felipe De La Hoz

Multimedia Editor | Felipe De La Hoz is a Colombian national studying journalism at the College of Arts and Sciences. Having been born in Colombia and raised in the United States, Mexico and Brazil, Felipe is a trilingual travel aficionado and enjoys working in varied and difficult environments. Apart from his photography, Felipe enjoys investigative reporting and interviews, interviewing the likes of Colombian ex-M-19 guerrilla fighters and controversial politician Jimmy McMillan. He has covered everything from governmental conferences to full-blown riots, as well as portraiture shoots and dining photography. Having worked under Brazilian photojournalists for Reuters and AFP, Felipe hopes to one day work on demanding journalistic projects and contribute to the global news cycle.

Ann Schmidt

News Editor | Ann is a liberal studies sophomore who lived in Florence during her freshman year. She plans on double-majoring in journalism and political science and is always busy. She is constantly making lists and she loves to laugh.


Daniel Yeom

Daniel started at the Features desk of WSN last Spring, writing restaurant reviews whilst indulging on free food and consequently getting fat. Last Fall, he was the dining editor, and he this semester he is senior editor. Daniel is in Gallatin (living the dream) studying Food & Travel Narratives, incorporating aspects of Food Studies, Journalism, and Media, Culture, and Communication. He loves food more than life itself.

Hannah Luu

Deputy Multimedia Editor | Hannah Luu is a ridiculously great Deputy Multimedia Editor. She is a sophomore from Northern California. If you think Northern California means San Francisco you might need to closely examine a map. She is passionate about NPR and being half Asian.

  • How to join:

    The Washington Square News holds open weekly budget meetings at its office located at 838 Broadway every Sunday. All are welcome to attend, no matter your background in journalism, writing, or reporting. Specific times for meetings by desk are listed below. If you wish to talk to an editor before you attend, feel free to check out the Staff page.

    5 P.M. 6 P.M. 6 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 7 P.M.

    Applying for an editor position: Applications for editor positions during the fall or spring semesters are available twice each academic year and can be found here when posted. Applications for the Fall 2012 semester are closed, but check back for Spring 2013. Those who wish to apply are urged to publish pieces in the newspaper and contact current editors for shadowing.

    History of the Washington Square News:

    The Washington Square News is the official daily student newspaper of New York University and serves the NYU, Greenwich Village, and East Village communities. Founded as an independent newspaper in 1973, the WSN allows its undergraduate writers and photographers to cover campus and city news and continues to grow its strong body of award-winning journalists and photographers.

  • The WSN has a circulation of about 60,000 and can be found in over a hundred purple bins distributed throughout campus. It is published Monday through Thursday during the fall and spring semesters and online on Friday, with additional special issues published in the summer. The newspaper recently revamped its website during the Fall 2012 semester.

    Like few campus newspapers in the country, the paper is editorially and financially independent from the university and is solely responsible for selling advertisements to fund its production. The WSN, including its senior staff, is run solely by current undergraduate students and the business-division is largely student-operated as well.

    A Board of Directors comprised of alumni, NYU professors and working news media professionals serves as advisors to the paper. Board members have no control in the WSN's editorial policy or newsroom operations. Alumni of the newspaper are established and leading journalists in such news organizations as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NBC news, ABC news, Fox News, and USA Today.