Kanye West spoke to Jon Caramanica at Bob Dylan’s Shangri-La Studios in Malibu (still from Jean-Luc Godard’s Masculin Féminin)

Rapper/self-awareness wormhole Kanye West gave an interview to Jon Caramanica in yesterday’s New York Times, a dialogue on West’s new album that devolved into the artist detailing his increasingly insane (or polymathic) credentials as a “creative professional.” The conversation, which took place at the legendary Shangri-la Studio — originally built under the auspices of Bob Dylan and the Band — was marked by increasingly bizarre digressions firmly belonging to the canon of eminently quotable Westian aphorisms.

The interview begins inauspiciously, with West pardoning Caramanica for the “cliché,” noting that “great art comes from pain … Great art comes from great artists.” Deceptively bland, he continues: “I didn’t realize I was new wave until this project. Thus my connection with [the graphic designer] Peter Saville, with Raf Simons, with high-end fashion, with minor chords.”

Sure, interviews may not be Kanye’s forte. But the series of quotables that go down in the exchanges that follow will surely work their way into meme hall of fame, or at the very least provide fodder for a reprisal of the concept initiated by the dormant though brilliant and widely-hyped Tumblr blog Kanye Wes Anderson. There is perhaps no fate more suitable for the words of the man who just declared himself “undoubtedly, you know, Steve [Jobs] of Internet, downtown, fashion, culture. Period.”

Thus, inspired in part by that project and by West’s announcement here that he is “a new wave artist,” we propose, below, a handful of choice quotes from the rest of the interview overlaid on stills from landmark works of French New Wave cinema. In truth, Kanye might have his sights set more on the Nouvelle Vogue than Nouvelle Vague (the French term for New Wave) — given his apparent obsession with Vogue editor Anna Wintour  — but who cares. Feel free to take it from here. Let the internet be the naked island to Kanye’s wave.

Still from Jean-Luc Godard’s La Chinoise (1967)

Still from Alain Resnais’s Last Year at Marienbad (1961)

Still from Jean-Luc Godard’s Pierrot le Fou (1965)

Still from Jean-Luc Godard’s Pierrot le Fou (1965)

Still from Jean-Luc Godard’s Masculin Féminin (1966)

Still from Luis Buñuel’s The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972)

Still from Alain Resnais’s Last Year at Marienbad (1961)

Mostafa Heddaya is the former managing editor of Hyperallergic.

12 replies on “Surfing Kanye’s Insane New Wave”

  1. uh, i think it was pretty clear that he was talking about New Wave as in the minimalist post-punk and synth music of the late 70s/early 80s. not the French New Wave at all

    1. Yes, that’s the joke. But if you want to throw some Kanye quotes on Talking Heads album covers nobody will stop you.

  2. Luis Bunuel’s work was not part of the French New Wave, or New Wave for that matter. He started making films 30 years before most of the French New Wave filmmakers.

    1. You’re correct about Buñuel’s career span, but that’s neither here nor there — artists (even auteurs) don’t follow an entirely hermetic trajectory. One look at Discreet Charm, or the people who collaborated with him on it, reveals the influence of the Nouvelle Vague. Yes, he is a surrealist, but that doesn’t preclude him from making contributions to other movements. A cursory search of the scholarly literature confirms this: “By the time of The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972), Buñuel would absorb the atmosphere of the Nouvelle Vague.” (Chin 2001,

      1. Thanks for giving me a quote I have read. For Bunuel to absorb the New Wave’s atmosphere is different then being a part of a movement that came out of an economic time and political scene that Bunuel was probably familiar with, but not completely a part of. When Discreet Charm came out in 1972, we have New Waves in world cinema arising, but the Nouvelle Vague had its day by then, Godard was done making his self described “bourgeois” films from the era. Bunuel was re-influences by an era that he had originally influenced.

        1. Look, we can debate this endlessly, and I appreciate your challenge. I’m not a film specialist, so you’re almost certainly more knowledgeable about this than I am, but what I do know is that by your own admission Buñuel was influenced by the Nouvelle Vague — whether he originally influenced them doesn’t really change this truism.

          If it makes you feel better, I shoehorned Discreet Charm in because of Kanye’s “breaking bread” bit, wasn’t trying to make a statement about Buñuel belonging to one movement or another.

  3. Wow, I was feeling pretty dim reading that interview, a cultural revolution that only Kanye and his kind are privy to. His answers reminded me of the ramblings in Neil Youngs’ recent memoir – 2 great minds (of a sort) that may have much in common. Autodidact types, and I’m one, tend to conflate ‘high’ and ‘low’ art, but he’s using terms and random experiences in museums and fashion shows to just step all over it

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