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’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.
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.