The Artist Who Inspired Kanye West’s ‘Famous’ Video Is ‘Incredibly Flattered’ By It

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Kanye West released the video for “Famous” this past weekend. As with all things Kanye, he managed to be the topic on every facet of social media as the video portrayed a number of celebrities laying naked in the bed with one another. Some of the people included were Amber Rose, Ray J, Donald Trump, George Bush, Rihanna, Taylor Swift and Kanye himself. Many fans were trying to determine whether these were the actual people or just wax figures, while others heralded the “genius” of Kanye West. It turned out that the visual was inspired by a painting from Vincent Desiderio.

Desiderio’s work, titled Sleep, was originally created in 2004. It later debuted in New York’s Marlborough Gallery after it was completed in 2008. Desiderio spoke to Cosmopolitan about Kanye’s use of the piece, telling Cosmo he loved Kanye’s interpretation.

“It’s an extraordinary and bold and different move for Kanye West,” he said. “And what I would say is that it is the clearest indication of his overall intentions as a person utilizing the media and working within it. I was absolutely floored and incredibly flattered and incredibly happy to see the video, which I think is really beautiful.”

He also referred to Kanye as a kindred spirit and compared him to Andy Warhol.

Think of how Andy Warhol was intentionally misconstrued because he put himself out there to be misconstrued. Think about how his whole life was a performance piece and then you understand why Kanye at one point said, ‘I’m Andy Warhol.’ The way we’re thinking about Kanye West and the way he’s portrayed, there’s an orchestration to it, but social media is so large right now that it spins wildly out of control.

As for how the two met, Desiderio said he received a mysterious phone call that he needed to get in touch with Kanye. In W magazine, he writes more about the mysterious journey from the time of the phone call until he finally met with West.

When I arrived the next day, I was told not to go to the hotel but instead directly to the Forum. The mystery redoubled as I was lead through a system of corridors and security checks to a room whose door was streaked with wild Abstract Expressionist marks. Inside was a small gathering of men and women seated around a laptop. Kanye stood up and greeted me warmly. We spoke about his new album, The Life of Pablo, and about a particular quote by Edgar Degas, about how a painting should be constructed “like the perfect crime.” I ventured that the Pablo referred to in the title was a dual reference to Pablo Picasso and Pablo Escobar. Kanye smiled and said, “St. Paul, too.” His eyes glistened. We were on the same page.

“Famous” is a track from Kanye’s last LP, The Life of Pablo, and the video can be seen on Tidal.

(Via Cosmopolitan, W Magazine)

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