Art is life, and life is art.
Jay Z inspired the masses when he released the visuals to the Magna Carta Holy Grail track “Picasso Baby.” Even if you didn’t quite understand the concept behind Jay Z’s “Picasso Baby” music video, the depiction of performance art will now prompt you to think outside the box whenever the opportunity may present itself.
Filmed at the Pace Gallery in New York City, the Mark Romanek-directed video featured many important figures in the world of art. From fashion designers and photographers to street artists and vocalists, “Picasso Baby” was essentially a who’s who in the art world.
So in honor of the interesting new video ALLaBOUTtHEsTATUS decided to round up 34 people in Jay Z’s “Picasso Baby” video that you should get to know.
Find the who’s who of Jay Z’s “Picasso Baby” below.
Interesting Fact: Marina is considered the “grandmother of performance art.” In March 2010, Marina put on the biggest exhibition in the MoMa’s history. Her “The Artist Is Present” exhibit (which is part of the inspiration behind Jay Z’s “Picasso Baby”) featured her sitting in silence with spectators for three months and over seven hours a day. She’s also collaborated with Lady Gaga in a reading of her piece “Solaris.”
Interesting Fact: A conceptual artist who loves to juxtapose art from different eras, Fred currently has an exhibition at the Pace Gallery that runs through mid-August.
Michael K. Williams
Interesting Fact: Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation” inspired him to become a background dancer. Michael K. Williams got his infamous “buck 50″ scar on his 25th birthday during a bar brawl in Queens. He’s most notably known for his role as “Omar” in HBO’s The Wire.
Interesting Fact: Alan got his start as a comedian before he became a notable actor on Broadway. He has his own fragrance called “2nd (Alan) Cumming,” and he’s written a book about foreskin and circumcision.
Taraji P. Henson
Interesting Fact: Taraji’s first acting gig included playing a 16-year-old teenager, but in real life she was actually 26. She was also nominated for an Academy Award for “Best Supporting Actress” for her role in The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, co-starring alongside Brad Pitt.
Interesting Fact: Known for her naughty, glittery, enamel, feminist art, Marilyn Minter knew she was an artist as soon as she was “conscious.” As a young art student, Marilyn shot photos of her drug addicted mother.
Interesting Fact: George Condo is responsible for Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy album cover. He received a call from the Chicago rapper and the two began collaborating on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’s album artwork. Ultimately, Condo created five covers for Kanye.
Occupation: Art Dealer
Interesting Fact: She considers herself a minimal dresser who only drinks water. She opened up her first art gallery in Oyster Bay, New York over 25 years ago.
Interesting Fact: Most notably known for his “Piss Christ” artwork (which offended many Christians), Andres has used body fluids such as blood, semen, and urine in his artwork series “Body Fluid” and “Immersions.”
Occupation: Music Producer
Interesting Fact: Some people consider him to be the protege of Rick Rubin. He’s the former A&R for American Records, and he’s served as a music producer for the soundtracks of movies like The Hangover, School Of Rock, Blades Of Glory, Star Trek, and Tropic Thunder.
Fab Five Freddy
Occupation: Hip-Hop Pioneer
Interesting Fact: Fab Five Freddy is most notably known as the first hip-hop VJ on MTV’s YO! MTV Raps, but he got his start doing art with Brooklyn-based artists called The Fabulous Five, who were known for graffiti painting the sides of subway cars. Fab Five Freddy is credited as one of the people who bridged the two worlds of hip-hop and art.
Interesting Fact: Rosie Perez was discovered in a nightclub by legendary director/filmmaker Spike Lee. She would later go on to star in his classic film Do The Right Thing, before scoring Emmy nominations for her role choreographing the dance numbers for In Living Color. She once had a little beef with Jay Z, after she criticized him for his use of the word “bitch” and his beef with Nas. Obviously, the two have made up.
Occupation: Producer/ Screenwriter
Interesting Fact: He’s the producer for Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, and he’s produced Aziz Ansari’s Aziz Ansari: Looking For Work, Pineapple Express, Step Brothers, Knocked Up, Superbad, and The Funny Or Die series.
Occupation: Dancehall Artist
Interesting Fact: Born in Jamaica, Magazeen was recently signed to Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group and is currently the only dancehall/reggae artist on the hip-hop label. Magazeen also has a song titled “Black Panamera” featuring his labelmate Wale.
Interesting Fact: This 21-year-old New York native was featured on NBC’s The Voice for her undeniable vocal capabilities. Kiah has been nominated for an MTV College Woodie award, and she also has an upcoming show at New York City’s Canal Room on Thursday, August 8.
Interesting Fact: We have no idea who Oliver’s parents are, but they have the coolest toddler ever. And the fact that his current occupation is being a superhero makes him even cooler.
Occupation: Street Dancer
Interesting Facts: Storyboard P is a Brooklyn-based street dancer who created a new style of dance called “mutant” characterized by gliding footwork. He also thinks art should have flaws.
Interesting Fact: Johnathan Charles is an up and coming Haitian actor who was featured as the “evil twin” in Kid Cudi’s “Mr. Rager” short film.
Occupation: Director Of Performa
Interesting Fact: Roselee Goldberg founded an art organization in 2004 that explores the roles of live performance art in the 21st century. She’s an author, NYU professor, and considered the “champion” of performance art.
Interesting Fact: Radical Phoenixx is a performance artist who has a three minute video on YouTube explaining “who she is.”
Interesting Fact: Mark Romanek is the visionary behind many of your favorite artists’ music videos. He’s directed Michael Jackson & Janet Jackson’s “Scream” music video, Fiona Apple’s “Criminal,” Madonna’s “Bedtime Story,” and he directed Jay Z’s “99 Problems” video, which scored him an MTV VMA.
Interesting Fact: Rashid Johnson is an acclaimed photographer most known for his ability to capture the black experience. His most controversial art exhibition, Chickenbones and Watermelon Seeds: The African-American Experience As Abstract Art, stirred up a lot of conversation surrounding racism and stereotypes within American society.
Interesting Facts: Despite being a number one-selling rapper today, Wale’s first album, Attention Deficit, sold a dismal 28,000 copies. Also, Wale secretly enjoys listening to George Michael’s “Careless Whisper.” Interesting, right?
Diana Widmaier Picasso
Occupation: Art Historian
Interesting Facts: Diana is actually Pablo Picasso’s granddaughter and she knows so much about the history of art, she’s basically art herself.
Interesting Fact: Wangechi Mutu is a Kenyan artist who currently resides in Brooklyn. Most recently, she teamed up with Santigold on an 8-minute short film titled The End of Eating Everything which debuted at the Nasher Museum at Duke University earlier this year.
Interesting Facts: Besides looking like a rock star, independent filmmaker Jim Jarmusch is the master of directing and creating indie films like Ghost Dog and Coffee and Cigarettes.
Occupation: Fashion Designer
Interesting Fact: Jenna Lyons is the creative director of J. Crew and owns approximately 300 pairs of shoes and 800 J. Crew t-shirts, but according to her, it only takes her about three minutes to get dressed and five minutes to do her makeup.
Interesting Fact: Lorna is a Brooklyn-based artist who is most famous for her Necklines exhibition which features two identical adjacent pictures of a black woman’s neck. In a vertical white text, the picture reads “ring, surround, lasso, noose, eye, areola, halo, cuffs, collar, loop,” and the final text in a red box reads, “feel the ground sliding from under you.” The picture essentially depicts the lynching of African-Americans in an unconventional manner.
Cynthia Rowley and Bill Powers
Occupation: Fashion Designer and Art Dealer
Interesting Fact: Bill Powers owns Half Gallery in New York City, stars on BRAVO’s Work Of Art reality TV series, and most importantly, he’s married to his fabulous fashion designer wife Cynthia Rowley. Cynthia Rowley has her own fashion label, she’s also appeared as a guest judge on America’s Next Top Model, and she redesigned the uniforms of United Airlines flight attendants and employees. Basically, these two are New York City’s artsy power couple.
Interesting Fact: John Roussell is a professor at California State University at Chico who shot a documentary about the failing physical education program at a private school in Harlem.
Interesting Fact: Not much is known about this young woman, but if Kanye West decides to use ballerinas for one of his videos again, Jay Z needs to connect them.
Interesting Fact: Adam Driver is most notable for his role on HBO’s hit series Girls. What’s most interesting about Adam is before becoming an actor, he served in the Marine Corps and now runs a non-profit organization called “Arts In The Armed Forces.”
Occupation: Spoken Word Poet
Interesting Fact: After taking a hiatus from sharing her art, being featured in Jay Z’s “Picasso Baby” inspired her to begin sharing her work with the world again.