Consistently treading the line between high art and pop culture, Kanye West’s latest video not only sees him enlisting a Turner Prize and Academy Award winning artist to direct, but going one step beyond and only showing the video in an actual gallery. The Steve McQueen-directed promo – a nine minute stomp between ‘All Day’ and unreleased ‘SWISH’ cut ‘I Feel Like That’ filmed in a single take in a skuzzy warehouse in Kent’s Chatham Dockyard – is only viewable at Los Angeles County Museum of Art at the moment. No YouTube or Vevo for Mr West, thankyouverymuch. Kanye’s not the only one to enlist an art world luminary to direct a music video, though – here are eight other times big name artists stepped behind the camera for musicians…
Interpol and Doug Aitken – NYC (2002)
Multimedia installation artist teamed up with Interpol for this debut album single. As stark and bold as the band’s own post-punk melancholia, it melded monochrome animation and heat sensitive night shoots. Aitken recently staged at 30 day ‘happening’ at London’s Barbican, which included performances by Suicide, Boredoms and Lonelady.
Death Cab For Cutie and Shepard Fairey – Home is A Fire (2011)
Shepard Fairey might be best known for his ‘Obey’ murals, but he’s also deeply involved in the music world too, working on artwork for the likes of DJ Shadow, Misson of Burma and Interpol, as well as regularly DJing. He’s only directed one music video though, ‘Home is A Fire’ for Death Cab. Filmed on the palm tree lined streets of Los Angeles, it sees the song’s lyrics becoming mini piece of Fairey street art.
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The Cars and Andy Warhol – Hello Again (1984)
New wave icons The Cars worked with the even more legendary Warhol on this piece of pop art perfection. Gratuitous softcore sex and violence, retina-burning bright colours, a cameo from a young Gina Gershon, alphabetti spaghetti, some ludicrous hairstyles and Warhol himself as a strangely mechanical bartender, it shows off the American Psycho style excesses of the 1980s to perfection.
Miley Cyrus and Terry Richardson – Wrecking Ball (2013)
Notorious fashion photographer to some, alleged misogynist to others, Terry Richardson and Miley Cyrus did their level best to, if not break the internet, then give it a damn good kicking with some cherry red DMs in their ‘Wrecking Ball’ video. Sledgehammers, breezeblocks and a blatant disregard for construction site health and safety regulations made for one of the most talked about music videos of 2013.
Kendrick Lamar and Kahlil Joseph – mAAd city (2014)
More of a short film than a music video, Kahlil Joseph’s ‘…mAAd city’ used a selection of sonic segments from Lamar’s groundbreaking 2012 album ‘Good Kid, Maad City’ to soundtrack footage shot on the streets of Compton. The film was then screened exclusively at Los Angeles’ MOCA gallery on two super-sized big screens.
Pet Shop Boys and Bruce Weber – Being Boring (1990)
Fashion photographer Bruce Weber has only made a handful of music videos throughout his lengthy career, limiting his collaborators to Pet Shop Boys, Chris Isaak and, um, Will Young. Lingering black and white shots of buff naked men on trampolines and of gorgeous couples frolicking in bathtubs, it’s one of Weber’s angular, erotic snaps come to vivid, sensual life.
Aphex Twin and Chris Cunningham – Windowlicker (1999)
Still one of the most infamous videos ever made, the 10 minute long ‘Windowlicker’ is a sinister hip-hop parody made all the more harrowing and hilarious by Richard D James warped features, on-point Michael Jackson dance moves and face-swapping antics. See 1997’s Come To Daddy for more of the same grotesque storytelling, courtesy of video artist Chris Cunningham, who is currently making a film about Warpaint and is married to Jenny Lee Lindberg of the LA band.
Sonic Youth and Richard Kern – Death Valley 69 (1985)
When it comes to modern art, no band is quite as involved as Sonic Youth. Using pieces by Raymond Pettibon, Richard Prince, Mike Kelley and Gerhard Richter as cover art, they’ve also collaborated with artists on the moving image, with Richard Kern behind the rampaging horror of Death Valley 69, in which he cast the model Lung Leg, who also features on the cover of the Evol album.