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A history of Kanye Western art

17 February 2016

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.

Nothing sparks Rakewell’s excitement quite like a crossover between hip hop and art history, and Kanye West’s apparent namecheck of Picasso in the title of his new album is no exception.

And that’s not all. Kanye’s new record, The Life of Pablo, has a cover designed by Belgian artist Peter de Potter. Said sleeve repeats the title in three unaligned columns against a fetching orange background, a deceptively simple concept that tech-savvy wags have been quick to parody. Indeed you can even mock up your own Kanye cover here with any comment that springs to mind.

Kanye, of course, has past form with the art world. He has collaborated on projects with artists including George Condo, Takashi Murakami and Steve McQueen. But his most noteworthy contributions to the visual arts are surely his attempts to situate himself in the historical tradition.

‘My goal, if I was going to do art, fine art, would have been to become Picasso or greater’, he told a crowd of students in Oxford last year. But Picasso isn’t the only artist West would best in a sketch-off: ‘Of course. I’m Michelangelo. Of course,’ he said to Show Studio, comparing his recently launched line of trainers to the sculptor’s David.

But before you get the impression that humility is in short supply chez Kanye, consider this: ‘For all haters, I’m not saying I’m Da Vinci, but I feel it’s right for any human being to compare themselves to anything. I could compare myself to this chair, I’m saying, “I’ve got one on my back, so I’m a chair.”’

So there you go. Should Kanye find himself in need of a Vasari, the Rake won’t hesitate to offer his services.

Got a story for Rakewell? Get in touch at rakewell@apollomag.com or via @Rakewelltweets.