Blog

The George Condo and Kanye West Collaboration

The artistic collaboration between Kanye West and George Condo is akin to that of a Great White Shark and a pilot fish. Kanye bites a lot of sh*t, makes a big splash, and fancies himself the king of the ocean while George Condo just feeds off of the remains of the drama. In other words, it’s highly entertaining while still maintaining a distinct cringe-worthiness to it.

 

In 2010, Kanye West dropped the album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, which attracted a ridiculous amount of critical acclaim. The only near criticism that anyone dared to publicize for fear of Kanye killing them in their sleep was from the Rolling Stone. Rob Sheffield stated that “nobody halfway sane could have made this album,” which just couldn’t be more real. Kanye is a known workaholic and in 2016 was hospitalized for dehydration and sleep deprivation resulting in temporary psychosis. He is in a word, a lunatic, and his taste in art reflects just that. For My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, West chose contemporary artist George Condo to create the cover art. The two met up at Condo’s studio in New York and listened to the album, after which Condo created up to nine paintings. Here are the ones that made the cut.

 

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy cover by George Condo

 

This cute but slightly Black Swan-esque ballerina is one of the five interchangeable covers that come with the album. After Kanye chose Condo to do the album cover art, he visited his studio several times to brainstorm possible paintings. In one session, they were listening to the song, Runaway, when Condo’s wife Anna showed Kanye a slow motion clip of French dancer Sylvie Guillem dancing. This image stuck in West’s mind and “he just said, ‘Hey man, I’d like to have a great ballerina painting.’ I thought of a ballerina toasting. You know, ‘let’s toast to the scumbags.’” And the rest is history.

 

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy cover by George Condo

 

This cover is highly in tune with Condo’s style of “psychological cubism.” This is a depiction of the many different Kanyes that exist within Kanye. It’s the God complex in him, the rapper, the producer, the artist, the fashion designer, the husband of Kim K, and the father of North and Saint all in one super disturbing image. But looking at this work is probably what it feels like to be in a room with the man – scary, disturbing, shocking, but above all incredibly fascinating.

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy cover by George Condo

 

We can find the explanation for this painting in a direct quote from Kanye himself: “I am Warhol. I am the number one most impactful artist of our generation. I am Shakespeare in the flesh. Walt Disney. Nike. Google. Now who’s going to be the Medici family and stand up and let me create more? Or do you want to marginalize me ‘til I’m out of my moment?” We all know that Kanye thinks highly of himself but this is beyond what we had ever imagined. He believes that he is “Shakespeare in the flesh” which is the explanation for this King Lear-esque painting. But instead of dying and having his entire family die, “his tragedy was a kind of exile that Kanye imposed upon himself.” It’s similar… but different. In actuality, West just “really like[d] that idea of a Shakespearian thing.” Also on a different note, does Kanye really believe that he needs a Medici family to support him with a net worth of $145 million…?

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy cover by George Condo

 

As you can tell this is just the above cover without the decapitated head part. Perhaps it’s an illusion to Kanye’s belief that he is invincible and maybe even immortal? We aren’t sure about the specifics, but can tell you without a doubt it has something to do with Kanye’s ginormous ego… but that’s just because everything that Kanye does has something to do with his ginormous ego.

 

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy cover by George Condo

 

The grand finale is this...thing. From Condo: “She’s a kind of fragment, between a sphinx, a phoenix, and a haunting ghost, a harpy." And then Kanye is also in some sort of strange 1970s burned-out back room of a Chicago blues club having a beer — so far away from the real Kanye West that it’s just a scream.” We can all agree that this is probably a little much for cover art, but who’s to judge? The answer is Wal-mart, iTunes, Spotify, and eventually the entire United States as it was banned from each of those places. Kanye, of course freaked out tweeting “So Nirvana can have a naked human being on they cover but I can't have a PAINTING of a monster with no arms and a polka dot tail and wings." But this was in fact all a publicity stunt because word on the street is that when West commissioned the works from Condo he specifically requested something that would get banned. Classic Kanye, am I right? And Condo went along for the ride knowing that it would only make his work more famous. And it did. In the first week, sales reached five hundred thousand copies and the album went to the top of the charts.

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy cover by George Condo (Censored version)

 

In order for the album to sell at all though they had to censor the image as it might disturb the children. You would think that they would censor his lyrics if they are going to take the time to censor the painting, but alas the world is a funny place.

 

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was not the last time Condo and Kanye would collaborate. They created (arguably destroyed) an Hermes Birkin bag for Kim for Christmas in 2013. Condo painted his version of The Judgment of Paris. But instead of Paris judging who is the prettiest between Hera, Aphrodite and Athena, the purse has Kanye judging who the prettiest is between a naked Kim and two ghoulish wenches. The choice is obvious and so is the fact that this bag is fugly as displayed by the bloodbath of the comments section of Kim’s instagram.

 

Source

 

Overall Condo and Kanye’s collaborations have been questionable, but highly entertaining. In an interview about their collaboration on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy Condo alludes to the fact that there may be more collaborations between the two of them in the future. We look forward to the ensuing drama with high expectations.

 

Emily Browne

Contributor

Sources

Sources

  1. Top: Kanye West "FUNNIEST" Reactions. SoupKitch TV, 2017. video.
  2. Tomkins, Calvin. "Portraits Of Imaginary People." The New Yorker. N.p., 2011. Web. 12 Dec. 2017.
  3. Silver, Evan. "New York Magazine: George Condo Explains His Five Covers For Kanye West’S Twisted Fantasy." HYPEBEAST. N.p., 2010. Web. 12 Dec. 2017.
  4. Sheffield, Rob. "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy." Rolling Stone. N.p., 2010. Web. 12 Dec. 2017.
  5. Jeffries, Stuart. "George Condo: 'I Was Delirious. Nearly Died'." the Guardian. N.p., 2014. Web. 12 Dec. 2017.
  6. George Condo On Kanye West Album Cover Art. New York: Viddler, 2011. video.
  7. D'Zurilla, Christie. "Kanye West's Doctor Called 911 During Breakdown, Report Says; Kim Kardashian Skips Public Return – LA Times." latimes.com. N.p., 2016. Web. 12 Dec. 2017.
  8. Dombal, Ryan. "Kanye's "Banned" Twisted Fantasy Cover (NSFW) | Pitchfork." Pitchfork.com. N.p., 2010. Web. 13 Dec. 2017.