The Artist That Inspired Kanye West's "Famous" Music Video Really, Really Likes It
Kanye West‘s “Famous” has been (and continues to be) one of the most talked about music videos of the year, and it’s understandable why. The controversial video features the naked wax bodies of several different celebrities all lying to next to one another, as a camera captures them in a variety of grainy sequences.
But the inspiration behind the visuals for “Famous” actually came from a painter — Vincent Desiderio. Desiderio created the painting Sleep: a 24-foot wide, hyper-realistic image of people sleeping together. Upon viewing both the last seconds of “Famous” and Sleep side by side you’ll immediately notice the similarities, with West paying homage to the New York painter.
In an interview with NPR Desiderio explained how he met West at the “Famous” premiere in Los Angeles, calling the moment a “meeting of two artists.” As the story goes Desiderio received a call asking him if he could attend West’s event and, at the encouragement of his kids, decided to go. Upon getting there he realized just how important his art was to the video.
“I was gobstruck, is the word. I was absolutely floored and honored, and I almost felt like crying. I think that Kanye and I embraced each other, and everyone else was sort of like that — they were all high-fiving me and hugging me,” Desiderio said. “…at that moment I realized that Kanye and I were on the same page completely. He was an art student, and speaking to him was like speaking to the brightest of my peers.”
The entire conversation is interesting but the best part may very well be this exchange, where Desiderio compares The Life Of Pablo creator to Andy Warhol:
We should also just point out that Kanye himself is in the image, as is his wife, Kim Kardashian.
“An incredibly important detail. An image like that is a mirror of the ridiculous cult of celebrity. I think Kanye, who I believe is very much like Andy Warhol in that he does not let his guard down about who he is, presents a mirror to people rather than he telling them how to think.”
Desiderio also reveals that he wasn’t compensated but even if he had been he wouldn’t of accepted it. “…it was a gift,” he said. “The gift was not the gift of celebrity; the gift was that what I did had strains of ideas, of information in it, that he was able to access and redevelop and realize into a different kind of image. It was a communication of artists.”