Beyoncé & Jay-Z Called Out By Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Friends For Posing W/ His Never-Released Artwork In Tiffany Ad: I Was Horrified, It’s Not What He Was About
As previously reported, the couple is the new face of Tiffany & Co.’s “ABOUT LOVE” campaign. Visuals for advertisements featured Beyoncé and Jay-Z posing with a never-released painting from late artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. He passed away at 27 years old in 1988.
Some fans previously took issue with the painting being displayed and others slammed Beyoncé for posing with an exclusive 1877 Tiffany’s piece. While she’s the 1st black woman and 4th person overall to wear the yellow 128.54-carat diamond, many pointed out its history. The piece was discovered in Kimberley, South Africa. At the time, the British colony was still in control. Black miners who worked in unthinkable conditions with minimal pay reportedly found the diamond, which has been labeled a “blood diamond.”
Now, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s friends are speaking out.
Alexis Adler, who lived with the artist from 1979-1980 said,
“I’d seen the ad a couple of days ago and I was horrified. The commercialization and commodification of Jean and his art at this point — it’s really not what Jean was about.”
“Unfortunately, the museums came to Jean’s art late, so most of his art is in private hands and people don’t get to see that art except for the shows. Why show it as a prop to an ad? Loan it out to a museum. In a time where there were very few Black artists represented in Western museums, that was his goal: to get to a museum.”
Basquiat’s former assistant, Stephen Torton, called out Tiffany, alleging the brand wouldn’t have supported him when he was alive.
“They wouldn’t have let Jean-Michel into a Tiffany’s if he wanted to use the bathroom, or, if he went to buy an engagement ring and pulled a wad of cash out of his pocket. We couldn’t even get a cab.”
He also addressed the painting being shown in the ad on Instagram recently and wrote in part,
“The idea that this blue background, which I mixed and applied was in any way related to Tiffany Blue is so absurd that at first I chose not to comment. But this very perverse appropriation of the artist’s inspiration is just too much.”
A curator of Basquiat’s paintings, who asked to remain anonymous, said he’s not convinced the artist was sourcing Tiffany Blue, but even if he was,
“it wouldn’t be used to sell Tiffany’s but to say something critical, maybe about blood diamond-extraction or something. I just think it’s a reach.”
What are your thoughts on what Basquiat’s friends had to say? Comment and let us know.