Kanye West has always been famous for his passion for visual arts, proving to be much more than a mere producer or a rapper. His interest in the artistic world dates back to 1997, the year he won a scholarship to attend Chicago’s American Academy of Art. Despite not finishing his studies, he has kept involved in the world of arts: his contributions, in fact, have been well acknowledged and in 2015 he received an honorary doctorate from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Complying with his enthusiasm for the artistic scene, he has been deeply involved in it on many levels: with presences at art fairs and galleries, collaborations with artists and fashion companies, producing art himself. He also joined his musical career with his art interest, taking care personally of the design of his album covers and his live performances, collaborating with several renowned artists such as Takashi Murakami (Graduation), KAWS (808s and Heartbreak), and George Kondo (For My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy).
His latest and exciting collaboration features the artist Judy Chicago, one of the pioneers of Feminist art in the 1970s, as his partner. The artist focuses on overturning the underrepresentation of women in the visual art world, putting the female subject at the core of her work, as in The Dinner Party, a piece that wants to celebrate the achievements of women throughout history.
Chicago embraces a wide range of media, elevating in particular art forms as needlework and embroidery, whose creators were mainly women, and which were dismissed as “craft” by the higher art world.
She also got involved in several innovative ventures, such as the Feminist Art Program, which aim to change the approach of women’s artistic training and to widen their access and visibility in the contemporary art scene. Not only as an artist but also as an intellectual and an educator, Judy Chicago has been an inspiration and a pioneer for an art that aims to trigger social change.
“My work has long been a way for me to bring attention to inequality, educate viewers, and empower them to make a change”
stated Chicago, who designed a cloudscape piece for Kanye’s set.
“I hope my contributions brought some joy to those attending the concert as well as continuing the needed dialogue on addressing criminal justice reform in this country and around the world”
The partnership features Chicago as Kanye’s creative consultant: he chose her after seeing her work scrolling through a folder where he saves artworks he considers inspiring. Chicago, who was pretty surprised by the request, agreed to consult on the visuals of his benefit concert at the Los Angeles Coliseum for Larry Hoover, the leader of Chicago’s Gangster Disciples, who has been locked up in prison serving multiple life sentences and has endured several periods of solitary confinement.