Kanye West Declares That His Tweets Are Contemporary Art

Can social media be art?

Kanye West. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Kanye West. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Kanye West has become both famous and infamous for drawing attention to himself on Twitter with his bizarre outbursts, most recently by demanding that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg invest $1 billion in his ideas. He’s also well-known for his interest in contemporary art. Now the rapper is ready to declare that his Tweets are themselves a form of “contemporary art.”

In his 140-character manifesto, he also explained that his artistic tweets are “only compromised by people trying to tell me what to tweet and not to tweet.” And in a subsequent missive he denounced critics as “non artists,” who were “trying to grab the paint brush.”

The misunderstood musician added that he was considering signing up to Instagram, but only on the condition that, “No one can ask me or try to tell me what to Instagram. It’s my art.”

In Kanye’s defense, the seemingly ludicrous suggestion that Twitter is art is, rightly or wrongly, gaining acceptance in some sectors of the art world. For instance, contemporary art darling Ai Weiwei transcribed his musings on Twitter between 2009 and 2014 into a traditional Chinese book printed on rice paper for an Australian museum show at the Gallery of New South Wales in 2015.

West’s interest in contemporary art is as well-known as it is eclectic. A short list: The musician was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Art Institute of Chicago last year; participated in a bizarre photoshoot with his wife Kim Kardashian shot by the German photographer Jürgen Teller; shot a Steve McQueen-directed music video shown at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and collaborated with Italian performance artist Vanessa Beecroft on the presentation of his new fashion line in February.

Sharp-eyed observers will recognize that the rapper’s Twitter avatar is an image by George Condo, the American painter who also designed the cover for West’s 2010 album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

West’s art cred has only been slightly damaged by the fact that he has compared himself to Leonardo da Vinci, and suggested that if Michelangelo was alive today, he would be working as a shoe designer.


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