The storm has been weathered, Beyoncé and Jay-Z want us to know, and it has made their unit stronger. To celebrate, and to make ostentatiously official their consolidation of power, they’ve returned to the Louvre, not as tourists but as bosses.
with the same air of permanence as the art-historical treasures around them.
The album, which the couple surprise-released on Saturday, during their “On the Run II Tour,” completes a meditative trilogy about infidelity and forgiveness. The previous two installments, Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” and Jay-Z’s “4:44,” were labors of gut-wrenching introspection, chronicling the crisis in the couple’s marriage after Jay-Z’s admissions of cheating.
In the past, the Carters have been accused of being art fetishists. On “Drunk in Love,” Jay-Z raps that their foreplay ruined one of his Warhols; Beyoncé shot the music video for “7/11” on an iPhone in the Tribeca apartment that they once owned, where works by Richard Prince and David Hammons were unceremoniously on view.
Beyoncé and Jay-Z seem to suggest that their own footprint will be as indelible as that of the entire canon of Western art. (“My great-great-grandchildren already rich / That’s a lot of brown on your Forbes list,” Beyoncé raps, haughtily.)
recalling in spirit the luxury-brand name-checking of the couple’s duet “Upgrade U,” from 2006. Twelve years ago, it was all about the Audemars Piguet watch; now it’s G8 jets and diamonds as translucent as glass.
either Beyoncé and Jay-Z are priests of capitalism who appreciate art only to the extent that it reflects their wealth, or they are radicals who have smuggled blackness into a space where it has traditionally been overlooked or exploited.
Their engagement with the European canon housed in the Louvre, their physical proximity to it, shouldn’t be flattened into a shorthand for transgression.
Jay-Z’s demand on his song “That’s My Bitch” to “Put some colored girls in the moma” is not only about correcting an erasure but about his own potential power to ordain a new status quo.
ehinde Wiley, whose years of situating everyday black men into settings of colonial wealth culminated in his portrait of the first black President.
The Carters are their own protagonists in a grand narrative of establishing a black élite.
“Everything Is Love” album art, cribbed from a moment in the “Apeshit” video, the “Mona Lisa” is shown blurred in the distance, while in the foreground a black woman uses an Afro pick to freshen a man’s hair.
That image gave me a primal political thrill. Beyoncé and Jay-Z have enlisted surrogates, knowing that the effect wouldn’t have been the same if the man and woman in the scene were them.
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