YouTube star and art-world explainer Hennesy Youngman records a rant about artists’ personal mythologies, the tall tales that serve as the background for many art superstars. Besides a lesson in hagiography, this video serves up an awesome comparison of personal mythology-making practices between rapper Jay-Z and
rapper shaman artist Joseph Beuys.
After a brief introduction, Youngman gets right down to business with some advice:
If you want to be a famous fuckin’ artist, you really need to start fabricating a personal mythology about yourself, you know what I’m sayin’? People don’t want reality, they want a story, the world wants to be deceived.
You want to be a legend? You have to act like a legend. Make some stuff up. Turn yourself into an art world superhero! “You have to live in that mythology, man,” Youngman tells us. Beuys was a total pro. The artists own personal mythology was began when he was fighting far above the Crimea as a German pilot in WWII. His plane was shot down, so we hear, but the artist survived the crash and was found by Tatar tribesmen (“the Russian version of Cherokee Indians”). The Tatars wrapped the injured Beuys in felt and animal fat (phat?) to nurse him back to health. Fat and felt remained touchstones of the artist’s work through Beuys’ career.
It’s doubtful if the story is actually true, but does it really matter? “Nah, it’s not true,” Youngman says, but people thought it was pretty awesome and bought in to Beuys’ shamanistic work more because of it. Just like Jay-Z, whose own street mythology includes an episode in which he was shot at point-blank range multiple times. Miraculously, all of the shots missed, and the rapper went on to become the legend that he is now.
“Jay-Z and Joseph Beuys are two outstanding performers who have been through some similar shit,” we are told. Totally true, and both used their mercurial pasts to their own artistic advantages. This comparison is made even better by matching the impossibility of Joseph Beuys’s performance attempting to explain pictures to a dead rabbit to Jay-Z’s attempt to make a star out of female rapper Amil. Also, there’s a clip of Beuys dancing, singing and swinging a microphone around in a totally 70s boy band at the end of the video. Now that’s seductive myth-making.
Your list of must-see, fun, insightful, and very New York art events this month, including Lee Lozano, Cindy Sherman, Tokuko Ushioda, Anas Albraehe, and more.
The art establishment was never quite sure what to do with a self-taught artist like Basquiat, who owed as much to bebop and William S. Burroughs’s cut-up technique as he did to African influences.
International audiences have free access to the media collections of MMCA Korea, Sharjah Art Foundation, and ArkDes through this subscription-based art streaming platform.
Kadish’s fossil-like heads, forms, and figures remind us that every civilization, including our own, eventually collapses.
In every role she held, Vendryes advocated for marginalized people and celebrated the cultural contributions of the Black and queer communities.
Convened by Erika Sprey, Lamin Fofana, Sky Hopinka, Emmy Catedral, and Manuela Moscoso, the public program unfolds this summer at CARA in New York City.
Stanton, who died of AIDS complications in 1984, left behind an engaging body of work, a moving tribute to a bygone generation of creative minds.
Baz Luhrmann’s film Elvis and Danny Boyle’s miniseries Pistol are both overly fixated on the influence their respective musicians’ managers had on them.
The Bay Area art book fair is back this July with free programming at three different on-site venues, new exhibitors, and fundraising editions from renowned artists.
In the wake of the Roe v. Wade decision, arts workers and reproductive rights organizations are collaborating on educational resources for accessing safe procedures.
The couple launched the Futureverse Foundation, a grantmaking organization that aims to “help keep the metaverse widely accessible.”
The museum’s “pay-what-you-wish” policy will remain in place for New York State residents and tri-state students, but out-of-state adults will pay $5 extra.