Beyoncé’s Sensational Pregnancy Photo Is the Work of Artist Awol Erizku

As it happens, it's not the only photo to be released.

Awol Erizku, Beyonce pregnancy announcement photograph. Courtesy of Beyonce, via Instagram.
Awol Erizku's Beyoncé pregnancy announcement photograph. Photo courtesy of Beyoncé, via Instagram.

When Beyoncé and Jay Z chose to share the news of her pregnancy with the world, they chose to do so via Instagram. That photograph, which quickly became the most liked post in the social media network’s history, accumulating nearly 8 million likes by press time (less than a full 24 hours after it was first shared), is the work of Los Angeles- and New York-based artist Awol Erizku.

“We would like to share our love and happiness. We have been blessed two times over. We are incredibly grateful that our family will be growing by two, and we thank you for your well wishes,” wrote the 35-year-old singer in a message signed “The Carters.”

The couple has worked with Erizku before, during a 2014 trip to Paris. He snapped photos of the pair at the Louvre museum, including an image that went viral of them posing in front of Leonardo da Vinci‘s iconic Mona Lisa. The photo shoot, which was shared on social media and later appeared in Vogue, has been credited with popularizing the art selfie trend.

Awol Erizku, Beyoncé and Jay Z in front of the Mona Lisa. Courtesy of Beyoncé via Instagram.

Awol Erizku, Beyoncé and Jay Z in front of the Mona Lisa. Courtesy of Beyoncé via Instagram.

The 28-year-old Erizku was born in Ethiopia and grew up in the South Bronx before getting an MFA at Yale University in Connecticut. According to the BBC, Erizku, who works in photography, sculpture, and video installation, treats Instagram as his gallery, opening his feed for public viewing at appointed hours. In the real world, he is represented by Night Gallery in Los Angeles.

The new babies will be the second and third children for the couple, who gave birth to Blue Ivy on January 7, 2012. Jay Z and Beyoncé married in 2008.

Beyoncé arrives at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) August 28, 2011, subtly announcing her pregnancy. Courtesy of Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)

Beyoncé arrives at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) August 28, 2011, subtly announcing her pregnancy. Courtesy of Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)

Beyoncé’s first pregnancy announcement, at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards, was perhaps equally sensational. Without saying a word, the pop diva, dressed in an elegant long-sleeved orange gown by Lanvin, cradled her stomach with two hands. “I decided to say nothing and proudly show my baby bump,” she later told Harper’s Bazaar. I felt it was more powerful to see the love and enthusiasm as opposed to saying anything.”

This week’s photograph, which presents the singer in her underwear and a Virgin Mary-esque veil, has certain religious overtones. As it happens, Beyoncé shared two additional pregnancy photo shoot images, with even more overt religious imagery—a radiating floral halo, to be precise—on her website.

Beyoncé shared this pregnancy photograph, with the filename "Venus" (an apparent Sandro Botticelli reference) on her website. Courtesy of Beyoncé.

Beyoncé shared this pregnancy photograph, with the filename “Venus” (an apparent Sandro Botticelli reference) on her website. Courtesy of Beyoncé.

If you live in New York, you’ll have the chance to see Erizku’s work in the flesh at LinkNYC public wi-fi kiosks in all five boroughs, as part of the Public Art Fund’s upcoming exhibition “Commercial Break” (February 6–March 5, 2017).


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