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Lady Gaga & Francesco Vezzoli at the MOCA NEW 30th anniversary on November 14, 2009 in LA. (Photo by Michael Caulfield/Getty Images North America)

The age of celebrity art has dawned and no one is a better example of that high-end marriage between the haves and the haves than pop singer Lady Gaga. It has been a long time coming for the maven of the dancefloor, whose every move feels like a tribute to 1990s club kid culture.

It’s a love affair that began for the pop princess back in 2004 when she penned this essay on Spencer Tunick for college. In it she discusses Michel de Montaigne’s “Of a Monstrous Child,” and summarizes what she sees as evident in the essay:

For the deformed, there is an ownership of one’s difference, an ownership that is visible and undisputable.

And this is how Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, Lady Gaga’s real name, connects the French thinker’s ideas to the work of Tunick, who is known for his landscapes of naked people:

The perceptions of the nude and the deformed both manifest out of a concept of the social body, and the ideological contrast and visible conflict that is created in their presence.

I know, deep. I’m just encouraged that Gaga is interested in these ideas. I wonder what Shaq’s take on Tunick and de Montaigne is?

More recently, Gaga performed at the 30th Anniversary celebration of MOCA last fall, which was orchestrated by her gala escort Italian artist Francesco Vezzoli, who is famous for making celebrities work for free. The event is described by the LA Times:

The centerpiece will be a live, five-minute production number called “Ballets Russes Italian Style (The Shortest Musical You Will Never See Again),” in which Lady Gaga will debut her new ballad, “Speechless.”

She’ll play a Steinway grand piano painted in spin-art style by Damien Hirst. Her hat was designed by architect Frank Gehry, and she and Vezzoli, who also has a part, will don masks created by filmmaker Baz Luhrmann and his production designer wife, Catherine Martin. For company, Gaga will have a dozen dancers from the Bolshoi Ballet, who will be wearing costumes created by Vezzoli and Miuccia Prada, head of the famous fashion house.

Talk about celebrity overload. The only thing they didn’t mention was if David LaChapelle was going to be snapping photos and if Thomas Keller was catering.

To her credit, Gaga has repeatedly called her work “performance art” — isn’t everything nowadays? — so her forays into art don’t feel contrived, but legitimately interested. Vezzoli described the November 14 event, which featured Lady Gaga this way, “They basically offered me a social ritual as a blank canvas to be turned into an artwork.” It’s nice to have deep pockets.

And now her latest foray into online performance has her pairing up with Canadian Terence Koh, who designed her pearly outfit for the 2010 Amfar benefit and orchestrated her “performance” that evening … it included her standing on top of her piano for 40 seconds.

In a video titled “88 Pearls,” which appears on Koh’s YouTube channel, Koh and Gaga are counting pearls. Get it, isn’t it hilarious? Not really. I assume the number 88 refers to the number of keys on a piano, but that’s up for interpretation.

Koh & Gaga counting pearls for a pearl necklace? (via Gagadaily)

Koh’s whole YouTube channel, called Terence Koh Show, includes oddly staged moments like this which pretend to be intimate insights into people’s lives but in reality feel contrived. He includes A-listers on his channel, naturally, including Hans Ulrich Obrist, Marina Abramovic, and like Vezzoli, Koh’s works feels like an insider celebrity-obsessed world that should probably step outside and get some fresh air.

While I may not be the biggest Lady Gaga fan, I certainly feel that Ms. Germanotta should diversify her taste in art. The world of art is great, and she should look beyond the starfuckers in the crowd.

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Hrag Vartanian

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic. You can follow him at @hragv.

4 replies on “Spencer Tunick, Terence Koh, Francesco Vezzoli…Does Lady Gaga Need An Art Teacher?”

  1. lets hope that this is only her first step towards engagement into the world. I am continually fascinated by LG. It is too easy to hate her, so i’ll take the road less traveled and try to love her a bit. If this is the step in the direction of her engaging the art world, then one could judge that on the progress she makes. If it all remains surfacy and high profile then fuck her. But if she starts learning about art, collecting in a serious way, engaging artists and the arts communities, then we’ll have something more to dig our hands into. the added attention wont hurt. Lets just make sure its the right attention. Or at the very least, lets make sure that Julia Allison records a video about it

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