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Wednesday, October 16, 2013


The world was agog this week as two notorious exhibitionists, Lady Gaga off of pop music and Jeff Koons off of contemporary art, pulled together like tectonic plates in seismic activity. It might not seem like a big deal, he designed her album artwork, but they have in fact heralded a new beginning in the way sound and vision will coalesce in future. The pop icon and the New York-based neo-pop artist have come together and produced a stultifying work of wonder that will be reproduced millions of times. Such innovation has left the rest of us metaphorically pointing into the sky at passing aeroplanes like those cargo cults of the South Pacific. It’s okay to feel a little helpless.

Let us be clear, Artpop is an album - like those other thousands of albums we’ve been listening to for decades and our parents listened to before us and their parents before them - but it is so much more. What does Artpop say to us? It says “this isn’t just an album cover, it’s a movement, a brand, a new era in sensuality, painted in neon pink and Yves Klein blue, called Artpop.” It’s a bit like another Modernist movement, Pop Art, but its newer and the words have been inverted and the space has been taken out. Pop Art sprung up in the mid-50s, and it cheated for at least a decade by not having any pop in it at all.

“Are we looking upon Lady Gaga or Botticelli’s the Birth of Venus?” we ask ourselves as the images are chopped up and configured together with Koons’ most glittery glue-gun and rhinestone scissors. Only the hair and the breasts and the fact it looks just like Lady Gaga gives away the fact it’s Gaga. It’s what the French and the pretentious call trompe l’oeil. We all double take a little bit, like getting an autograph from Jo Whiley only to discover when examining the signature that it was actually Benedict Cumberbatch dressed as Julian Assange. Yes, Artpop is the visual equivalent of a lucky day, not only are we getting a Botticelli - one of the masters of the early Renaissance - but we’re getting a Koons too.

Thanks to Gaga's dalliances with art's leading luminaries - not only Koons but also Marine Abramovic, a woman who can sit still for months on end doing fuck all in the name of art while you try to stare her out - the line between art and pop has never been so blurred. Nobody has zigzagged the invisible line that divides art and pop like Gaga has. Read more below!

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