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April 20 2014

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The Artist Was Present

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Jay-Z

If fine art wasn’t already the ultimate status symbol, it certainly is now. Yesterday afternoon, the reigning king of hip-hop and all-around tastemaker Jay-Z brought together the crème de la crème of New York’s art, fashion, and entertainment worlds for the marathon six-hour-long shoot of his video for “Picasso Baby,” off the new Magna Carta…Holy Grail album, at the Pace Gallery in Chelsea.

“I just met baby Picasso, baby!” enthused Jenna Lyons, pointing out the late painter’s granddaughter, Diana, who participated in the action along with Judd Apatow, Jim Jarmusch, Alan Cumming, Adrian Grenier, and Jemima Kirke. Further upping the event’s street cred were Rosie Perez, Fab 5 Freddy, and Michael Kenneth Williams (a.k.a. Omar from The Wire). Naturally, the art world was well-represented, too. An established collector of Basquiat, Warhol, and Hirst, Mr. Carter worked with his personal art adviser, Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn, to bring in contemporary stars such as Richard Phillips, Elizabeth Peyton, Rob Pruitt, Aaron Young, Kalup Linzy, Jane Holzer, and Klaus Biesenbach. Each took a turn vibing alongside Mr. Carter during a live performance of the song that was being filmed by Mark Romanek (who was also behind “99 Problems”) in the format of Marina Abramovic’s The Artist Is Present show. Notoriously transgressive photographer Andres Serrano, who was rocking his signature flattop hair and a vintage cowboy ensemble, told Style.com, “I’m just going to wing it when I get up there and go off of him. “‘Big Pimpin’ has to be my favorite song of his.”

At the end of the track, Hova would huddle up all the eager onlookers. The vibe was amped up, but it wasn’t high enough for Jay. “Y’all call that energy?” he boomed into the mic, which reminded people to stop Instagram-ing and Vine-ing.

The clear highlight of the production was Jay’s interaction with Abramovic herself. The two locked foreheads, as if in a performance-art mind meld, and stared each other down while circling the room. And when their powers combine? The artist Laurie Simmons’ verdict is likely the one the two were courting: “Simply genius.”

Photo: Brittany Adams

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  1. Umoru Ruki says:

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