Thursday, August 5, 2010

Kanye West’s ‘Power’ Video: Portrait of the Artist as a Rapper


In Kanye West’s new video “Power,” directed by artist Marco Brambilla, the rapper aims to make an artwork come to life. “It’s not a video .. It’s a moving Painting!!!” Kanye tweeted about an hour ago.

The clip begins with an up-close shot of Kanye West and pans out to reveal a neoclassical living portrait of the rapper surrounded by supernatural figures from various historical eras, including horned women, winged women and dudes with swords. The clip has the feel of a slow-motion Roman orgy, with West being the Caesar at the center, rows of ionic columns stretching out behind him. And then, 90 seconds into the song, that’s it. Painting gone. You have to hope there will be an extended version to see soon.

Brambilla is an Italian-born Canadian artist who received wide acclaim for his 2009 video installation “Civilization.” (He also incongruously directed the 1993 action movie “Demolition Man” starring Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes. I guess an artist has to eat.) A major retrospective of Brambilla’s work is scheduled for display at the Santa Monica Museum of Art in 2011.

West has worked with other top-tier visual artists in the past, including Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, who designed the artwork for his album “Graduation.”

The new video reportedly drew on Michelangelo’s frescos for inspiration. But surely if the painter of the Sistine Chapel had done this music video, it would have been much longer.

You can see the clip here.

What did you think of Kanye West’s new video? Leave your thoughts in the comments. What do you think it meant exactly?

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