Jay-Z on Cy Twombly



Art and celebrity don't overlap much for me, but when someone has such a fine handle on expressing the power of art, I have to share. Here, from an article about Jay-Z in GQ, is the rapper's simple but articulate take on successful art, courtesy of an experience with a work by Cy Twombly at the Gagosian Gallery on West 24th Street:

A Twombly at the Gagosian Galley.
  • Gagosian Gallery
  • A Twombly at the Gagosian Gallery.

The Twombly is all scrawl and half-erasure, violent like a bus window keyed by an army of scratch-taggers, if scratch-taggers bombed public transit with the names of Greek heroes like AGAMEMNON and AJAX and ODYSSEUS and JASON. Also—and once [museum director Ealan] Wingate points this out to us, it's hard to see anything else—there are a lot of exuberantly crude drawings of vaginas and balloon-animalish dicks.

Jay digs this one. It reminds him more than a little of the Basquiats he collects, the ones he's referring to on the Throne track "Illest Motherfucker Alive" when he rhymes House like a museum with see 'em when I'm peein' with Usually, you have this much taste, you European. (Classic Jay: culturedness as swag, class snobbery brushed off like so much shoulder dirt, and a relatability-enhancing reference to taking a piss just like a regular dude, all in the space of three lines.)

He stands ten feet back from the Twombly, and for a long minute nobody says anything and the wind rattles the gallery's windows and he briefly ceases to be the focus of everybody's attention.

"You hear that silence right there?" he finally says, laughing. "That's art workin'."

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