By Vanessa Denis
Kanye West certainly considers himself an artist, and on his various websites and blogs, he’s turned himself into a curator of the arts he hasn’t tried to master himself. But today we’re going to stroke his ego a little more and present a thesis even Yeezy hasn’t presented (as far as we know, anyway): Kanye West is the Andy Warhol of his time.
The superstar artist of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, Andy Warhol was best known for the way he took pop-culture celebrities and advertisements and repackaged them into art. He became famous for this with his silk-screened Campbell’s Soup series and the portraits of famous figures such as Queen Elizabeth, Marilyn Monroe and Mick Jagger. Warhol took something basic as a logo or the familiar face of an actress and presented it repeatedly in vibrant colors on a large canvas. His work shocked and fascinated many during the early ’60s.
For his part, West has been sort of repackaging his music in his recent live performances, which have placed extra emphasis on visual impact. For the debut of “Runaway” at the 2010 VMAs, Kanye rapped and played his music accompanied by a few ballerinas against a stark, all-white backdrop. In contrast to the usual, sexually suggestive backup dancers, Kanye and his classical dancers provided for a futuristic experience merging rap and ballet.
For his performance of “Power” on last week’s “SNL,” Kanye took another cue from Warhol — repetition with slight variation — and had about 20 dancers of various skin tones and ethnicities writhing and posing around him on a stark white stage. And much the way Warhol never shied away from messing with iconic images, Kanye dared to re-make the iconic “SNL” stage to suit his vision.
At the height of his popularity, Andy Warhol surrounded himself with other artists and muses, such as Edie Sedgwick, in what became known as “The Factory,” a space where anyone who wanted to be anyone would come to be seen and associated with Warhol. Andy was known for having many parties and observing those around him and then using his friends in the films he began producing during the ’60s.
Kanye’s “factory” exists wherever he goes. In the past year, model Amber Rose seemed to be his muse and companion. The two are no longer together, and his latest “It” girl appears to be Victoria’s Secret model Selita Ebanks, who plays a phoenix in the in-progress movie for his song “Runaway.” His latest G.O.O.D. Friday release, “Christian Dior Denim Flow” even speaks to his fascination with fashion and models. And since dropping the song, the infamous Twitterer, who before last week wasn’t following anyone on the micro-blogging service, is following 16 models.
What do you think? Is Kanye the new Andy? Share your thoughts in the comments!