This Summer Session we’re thinking about celebrity, and today we bring you an excerpt from an article by Erica Gonzales about Kanye West’s recreation of artist Vincent Desiderio’s work for his music video “Famous.” Desiderio was neither consulted nor compensated before West made the video, yet he asserts that he was honored by West, exemplifying the social, economic, and artistic realities of what it means to have “star power.” This article was originally posted at Elle Magazine on July 3, 2016.
Kanye took Vincent Desiderio’s “Sleep” & brought it to life with a modern twist.. if that isn’t genius idk what is. pic.twitter.com/bSDddfQFNo
— RAY MUÑOZ (@raymunoz94) June 25, 2016
When Kanye West’s “Famous” video released last weekend, many pointed out its likeness to Vincent Desiderio’s “Sleep,” which similarly shows naked figures slumbering side by side.
Soon after the premiere, it was revealed that West not only aimed to recreate Desiderio’s famed piece, he personally collaborated with the artist too. Since the weekend, Desiderio has spoken out about getting discovered by Kanye and helping to create “Famous.”
The artist apparently didn’t know the rapper was recreating his work until the morning of the video’s premiere at the Forum last week, according to The New York Times. He only found out West wanted to meet him the night before, when he received an urgent call at his studio. He was then flown out by the rapper’s team to meet with West in Los Angeles for a confidential project. When West finally showed him the piece he was working on, Desiderio nearly broke down.
“I was almost in tears,” he told NYT. “We just hugged each other.”