Opinion

A Brief History of Kanye West’s Art Commentary on Twitter

Not-so artistic rendering of Kanye West tweeting on stage (illustration by the author for Hyperallergic)
Not-so-artistic rendering of Kanye West tweeting on stage (illustration by the author for Hyperallergic, original photo via Wikimedia Commons)

This morning, School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) honorary degree holder Kanye West proclaimed on Twitter: “My tweets are a form of contemporary art only compromised by people trying to tell me what to tweet and not to tweet…” The cryptic message was part of a series addressing his desire to join Instagram, but only if he has complete creative freedom over what he would post there because, “It’s my art.” He then accused his would-be Instagram handler of being a “Non artist trying to grab the paint brush.”

As any of West’s more than 20 million Twitter followers can tell you, if the social media platform is a canvas, he wields words like Jackson Pollock. His comments on art, not unlike his remarks at the SAIC last year, offer sweeping pronouncements on and cutting criticisms of the state of contemporary art, fashion, and music. Here, then, are some highlights from what will one day surely be a collected “Critical Writings of Kanye West.”

On the definition of art:

On the critical feedback offered by those around him:

On his own standing in the pecking order of living artists:

On his portrayal in mainstream media:

On the artist who has had the greatest influence on his work:

On the challenges of making political work:

On the similarities between art and McDonald’s:

On what motivates his practice:

On the state of arts patronage in the Bay Area:

On his relevant precursors in the history of art:

On the public pressures endured by artists:

On his censorship policy:

On the etymology and correct pronunciation of “zine”:

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