Beyoncé Hits New York Museums With a Guerrilla Marketing Campaign for ‘Cowboy Carter’

The pop singer advertised her new album with some "unauthorized" projections.

Beyoncé and Jay-Z at the 66th Grammy Awards, 2024. Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy.

Cowboy Carter is coming for New York. Beyoncé sparked a worldwide stir on Tuesday when she dropped the cover art her forthcoming album to announce its release next week. After the news dropped, on Wednesday evening, the Guggenheim Museum’s facade featured lines of projected text from Beyoncé’s announcement: “This ain’t a country album. This is a ‘Beyoncé’ album.”

The guerrilla marketing also involved projections of the Cowboy Carter cover onto the exteriors of other New York art institutions, including the New Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Museum of Arts and Design, through Thursday night.

It appears that the museums weren’t in on the stunt, but they also weren’t opposed to it.

The Guggenheim’s statement, shared with Artnet News, said: “The Guggenheim was not informed about and did not authorize this activation. However, we invite the public—including Beyoncé and her devoted fans—to visit the museum May 16–20 when we present projections by artist Jenny Holzer on the facade of our iconic building to celebrate the opening of her major exhibition.” On Thursday morning, the Guggenheim shared Franz Marc’s Three Horses Drinking (1910) in an Instagram post with a caption from Beyoncé’s new single, “Texas Hold ‘Em.”

The Whitney, in its official statement, similarly capitalized on the free publicity: “We wish Beyoncé well with her album, and look forward to seeing her at the Whitney Biennial soon.”

Beyoncé had led fans to the Guggenheim in a Wednesday evening Instagram story that simply highlighted the museum on a map, sending her BeyHive into a frenzy, as Variety reported. But Hyperallergic has also questioned whether the pop star should have used the museum as a promotional venue, given the Guggenheim’s history as a site for activism around labor rights and World Aids Day. One has to wonder why Beyoncé chose to debut the campaign at the Guggenheim in particular. Maybe it’s simply because the iconic Frank Lloyd Wright architecture offered an aesthetically pleasing blank page.

Beyoncé’s team hasn’t yet responded to questions about the campaign. She isn’t the first musician to project album ads around the city, but her unique decision to spotlight art museums aligns with her ever-deepening art-world connections, which include dressing up as Frida Kahlo for Halloween in 2014 and filming a music video in the Louvre in 2018.

A photograph of singer Beyoncé holding an American flag atop a galloping white horse on a black background

Beyoncé’s Cowboy Carter album cover. Photo via Instagram.

Cowboy Carter, also known as Act II, is set to drop March 29 and will mark Beyoncé’s full-length foray into country music, following the 2016 track “Daddy Lessons,” included on Lemonade. “The criticisms I faced when I first entered this genre forced me to propel past the limitations that were put on me,” she wrote in an Instagram post announcing the album. “Act II is a result of challenging myself, and taking my time to bend and blend genres together to create this body of work.”

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