Director and Artist Robert Wilson Is Auctioning Off His First-Ever NFT: A Video Portrait of Lady Gaga

The piece casts the pop star in an animated restaging of Jacques-Louis David’s 1793 painting, ‘The Death of Marat.’

Robert Wilson, GAGA/MARAT (2021). Courtesy of Phillips.
Robert Wilson, GAGA/MARAT (2021). Courtesy of Phillips.

Robert Wilson is getting into the crypto art game—and he’s getting a little help from Lady Gaga.

The influential theater director and artist recently minted an eight-year-old video portrait of the pop star as an NFT—his first ever. The piece features Gaga in a live-action restaging of Jacques-Louis David’s iconic 1793 painting, The Death of Marat

GAGA/MARAT, as the digital artwork is called, will be offered up at Phillips’s “20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale” on June 24 in New York, with bidding starting at just $100. (Phillips did not provide a pre-sale estimate; a spokesperson for the auction house clarified that the work does not carry a guarantee.)

Across two minutes, the light on the titular subject—Gaga posed as the French revolutionary journalist who was slain by Royalist sympathizer Charlotte Corday—slowly changes, turning a still image into a moving one.

Meanwhile, an audio track of Gaga reciting an incantatory poem based on the writings of the Marquis de Sade plays in the background. “The next day another turn came and so it continued always the same, coitus, Christ, curses, ejaculation, always the same,” she says over and over again.

The original video piece on which the NFT is based, titled La Mort de Marat, belonged to a series of portraits Wilson made of Lady Gaga based on subjects in the Louvre. In addition to the David homage, he also cast the singer-songwriter in reimaginings of Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres’s 1806 canvas MademoiselLe Caroline Rivière and Andrea Solari’s 1507 painting The Head of Saint John the Baptist

A final black-and-white video portrait, which featured a nude Gaga bound in ropes—as if practicing the Japanese art of shibari—and hanging upside down, was not based on a specific piece in the Louvre’s collection, but drew comparisons from observers to the work of photographer Nobuyoshi Araki.

The video portraits premiered in a special solo exhibition of Wilson’s work held at the Musée du Louvre in the fall of 2013, and were the subject of a show that Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac at the same time. Earlier that year, Wilson designed the set for Gaga’s performance at the MTV Video Music Awards.  

According to Phillips, Wilson reedited La Mort de Marat before minting it as an NFT. 


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