7 Ways the Art World Has Influenced The Look And Feel Of Music

The art world and the music scene have enjoyed a love affair that dates back to the godfather of Pop Art himself, Andy Warhol, who created some of the most iconic album covers of all times for the Rolling Stones and the Velvet Underground. In the years that have passed, we’ve witnessed historic duets of sight and sound, like Grace Jones and Keith Haring’s body painting for the film Vamp; Jean-Michel Basquiat and Rammellzee’s collaborating on the classic 12-inch single, “Beat Bop”; and most recently, Richard Prince’s Instagram series, which included an appropriated photograph of underground rapper Junglepussy. Here, Crave looks at some of the ways that the art world continues to influence the look and feel of music.

James Turrell x Drake

James Turrell x Drake

Left: James Turrell, “Amrta”, 2011. Right: Still from “Hotline Bling”.

 The Internet went wild for Drake’s recently released video for “Hotline Bling,”, which features backdrops of glowing neon gradients that resemble Turrell’s light installations. Although Drake has only tenuosly confirmed a connection to the artist, Turrell’s influence is evident throughout the video. Turrell has responded by stating, “While I am truly flattered to learn that Drake f*cks with me, I nevertheless wish to make clear that neither I nor any of my woes was involved in any way in the making of the ‘Hotline Bling’ video.”

Marina Abramović x Jay Z


To create the video for “Picasso Baby”, Jay Z spent six hours at New York City’s blue-chip Pace Gallery, where he filmed himself rhyming over the track while engaging with a wide array of art world insiders. The video reached its zenith with the appearance of Marina Abramović, whose performance art piece “The Artist Is Present” inspired the concept, and who engages in a visual tete-a-tete with the legendary emcee, effectively embracing his intrepid foray into the art world.

Vanessa Beecroft x Kanye West

Vanessa Beecroft x Yeezy

Left: Vanessa Beecroft, “VB46.017” (Detail); Right: Yezzy Season 2 photo by Randy Brooke/Getty Images.

 When thinking about ideas for The Yeezus Tour, Kanye West said he was inspired by the world coming to an end, with explosions, fire, mountains, masked creatures, and Jesus all making an appearance on stage. West turned to celebrated conceptual artist Vanessa Beecroft to act as art director of the tour. The pair had previously worked together on several projects, including Kanye’s short film, Runway. Most recently, you can catch West’s glaring appropriation of Beecroft’s site-specific artwork for his recent Yeezy Season 2 Fashion Week showing.

Lady Gaga x Jeff Koons


Jeff Koons, who currently holds the record as the most expensive living American artist, not only designed Lady Gaga’s ARTPOP album cover, but created a sculpture of her liking, as well as a series of t-shirts to accompany the release of the singer’s third studio release. Gaga described the album as an exploration of the “reverse Warholian” phenomenon in pop culture, a meaningless phrase she seems to have invented exclusively to market the album.

Pharrell Wlliams x Takashi Murakami


Pharrell teamed up with celebrated Japanese artist Takashi Murakami for the video of “It Girl.” The animated epic takes place inside a Japanese videogame, with Pharrell transformed into an anime character in search of his “it girl.” The two have collaborated together previously – both having a natural affinity for a similar pop style, sense of design, and color palette.

Frida Kahlo x Rihanna


Rihanna, no stranger to artistic inspiration, having channeled the Keith Haring/Grace Jones collaboration for her “Rude Boy” video, took the majestic eyebrows of Frida Kahlo and placed them prominently on her face for the “Bitch Better Have My Money” artwork. Although the allusion was subtle, it was rather bold, for it stood out sharply in a world of overly manicured eyebrows.

Roger Ballen x Die Antwoord

Roger Ballen X Die Antwoord

Left: Roger Ballen, ‘Scream’ 2012. Image Courtesy of the artist and MONA Museum of Old and New Art; Right: Photo from the Die Antwoord/Roger Ballen installation at Mouche Gallery.

Ninja and Yolandi Visser of Die Antwoord decided to start a band after seeing the photographs of Roger Ballen. As they observed, “We had never seen photographs that made us feel such violent excitement… So fascinating, so disturbing, so unfucking believably fresh! These were no ordinary photographs. They were highly complex surreal artworks in the exact same league as Salvador Dali, Hieronymous Bosch and Lucian Freud.” It was only natural for the musicians and artist to pair in the video for “I Fink You Freeky” to bring Ballen’s haunting photographs to life.


 Miss Rosen is a New York-based writer, curator, and brand strategist. There is nothing she adores so much as photography and books. A small part of her wishes she had a proper library, like in the game of Clue. Then she could blaze and write soliloquies to her in and out of print loves.