With fame and fortune you can do just about anything, but maybe you shouldn’t. Yet that hasn’t stopped celebrities from trying their hands at contemporary art, as evidenced by the performance art escapades of Jay-Z this week. But he’s hardly the first, and not even the worst. Below are a few more of celebrities failing at art.
His art: Red Skelton started his comedy career as a circus clown, and later turned that early stage of his profession into some creepy clown paintings, sort of like you might find haunting the back of a Salvation Army in splintered frames. Apparently, he was inspired by seeing “a bunch of blotches” in a painting that cost thousands of dollars (presumably some work of abstraction), and he decided to go out on his own and do work that costs in the tens of thousands, all with clowns and no blotches to be found.
“Clowns were Red Skelton’s favorite subject. He created many different clowns, and occasionally used other celebrities as his subjects.” (via redskelton.com)
His art: Before he went on his ascent to brutal power in Germany, Adolf Hitler tried to be an artist. Unfortunately perhaps for history, he was not a success. He twice failed to be accepted to the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, likely due to the bland, impersonal nature of his art.
From “Paintings by Adolf Hitler” in LIFE magazine, ”As usual, no human figures appeared in his work.”
His art: Sir Anthony Hopkins had his first exhibition of abstract paintings back in 2010 in London, although the landscapes and curious creatures like this elephant often come off as sinister as his characters.
“When I paint, I just paint freely without anxiety regarding outside opinions as criticisms. I do it for sheer pleasure. It’s done wonders for my subconscious – I dream now in colours.” (via the Telegraph)
Her art: The former Bond girl Jane Seymour’s painting centers on landscapes of odd perspectives and shaky Impressionist-influenced paintings, although one of these works apparently inspired a jewelry line for Kay Jewelers with a symbolically open heart.
“Over the past eighteen years she has created an intimate world of delicate watercolors, colorful vibrant oil paintings, pastels and bronze sculptures.”
His art: Sylvester Stallone can’t be blamed for using too little paint, but that’s about all that you might politely be able to say about his paintings. The scrawled works look like rambling experiments, but somehow made it to a misguided display at Art Basel Miami Beach.
“Stallone’s pictures are as action-packed as his movies: colorful, expressive and abstract. The actor uses an expressionistic style to realise his art in a spontaneous way.” (via sylvesterstallone.com)
Her art: Sasha Grey has switched from porn to visual art, but keeping her work in photography and performance art still pretty salacious. This has included a video portrait by none other than Richard Phillips, filmed at the modernist John Lautner Chemosphere House for architecturally pretentious effect, although it’s more fashiony music video than anything groundbreaking, despite what the below artist statement may suggest.
Artist statement, from artist Richard Phillips:
“For my film portrait of Sasha Grey, I wanted to focus on her expressive and psychological transformation into a cinematic actor, separate from the cues that have associated Sasha with her previous career as a performance artist working within the adult film world.” (via Huffington Post)
Ringo Starr’s art is based in MS Paint, and is all broad, shaky mouse-driven lines and giant paint bucket fills of color. To give him credit, he does donate all the proceeds of his art to charity and is pretty up front about it being MS Paint amateurism, so you can’t hate on the guy too much.
“Most of the titles for my pieces arrived because on computer you have to call them something, so I have. The easy way to look at it is, if it has a hat on — it will probably be called Hat Man.” (via ringostarrart.com)
George W. Bush
From the Telegraph‘s Mark Hudson: “George W Bush’s first forays into painting have a naive vigour and unintentionally childlike quality.”
His art: The King of Pop reportedly used a “top-secret Santa Monica airport hanger” for both a place to store his art collection and create his own work. As you might predict, the drawings, that include idols like Charlie Chaplin, designs for a monument to himself, and pieces of furniture with faces, are kind of weird.
Artist statement: From Jackson’s “art mentor” Brett-Livingstone Strong in a story in LA Weekly:
“He loved chairs. [...] He thought chairs were the thrones of most men, women and children, where they made their decisions for their daily activity. He was inspired by chairs. Rather than just do a portrait of the monkey, he put it in the chair.”
His art: Macaulay Culkin, who has apparently had showings alongside Michael Jackson, has launched his career into art full of weird scenes involving game shows, television figures, and other pop culture in a really trippy mess of paint. It’s all part of something called the 3MB collective operated out of his multimillion dollar apartment-turned-studio.
“We use a lot of iconography from our youths and stuff like that: ‘The Masters of the Universe,’ or Korn, or whatever… The sillier and the funner, the better.”
Her art: It’s hard to argue that Lady Gaga isn’t a skilled marketer/performer and the spectacles she creates definitely have a hyper visual level for our 21st century weary eyes, but does it warrant these kinds of statements…
Artist statement, via Slate:
“Lady Gaga is something of an anomaly: a pretentious pop starlet. To hear her tell it, she isn’t the anonymous hookup facilitator you might assume from her robotically decadent techno hits but, rather, a savvy media manipulator engaged in an elaborate, Warholian pop-art project.”
Subscribe to the Hyperallergic newsletter!