Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Jay-Z + More: Music Videos Inspired By High Art

VH1 + SCOPE are coming together and celebrating ART + MUSIC + BEACH at Art Basel Miami next week. We spoke to hip hop artist, Kasseem “Swizz Beatz” Dean and artist, Hebru Brantley who explained the close relationship between music and art. We’ve decided to explore this relationship a little further by looking at some of pop culture’s biggest music artists and their music videos that were inspired by famous artists.

1. Rihanna, “Rude Boy” (2009)

When Rihanna’s “Rude Boy” music video first hit the scene the video was immediately compared to M.I.A.’s, “Boyz.” It’s hard not to see the visual similarities between the two videos, but putting controversy aside for a moment, we can also see the video’s nod to Keith Haring and the pop-art world.

2. Joss Stone, “The High Road” (2012)

Joss Stone’s cover of Broken Bell’s “The High Road” does justice to the original song while paying tribute to Salvador Dali in the music video. Joss’ video features melting clocks which are a nod to Dali’s piece, “The Persistence of Memory.”

3. Kanye West, “Runaway” (201)

Never short on words or imagery, Kanye West released a 34 minute video for his song, “Runaway.” Kanye collaborated with Italian artist, Vanessa Beecroft who is credited with the video’s art direction. The half hour video also features many art references, check out MTV’s cheat sheet for the full breakdown.

4. R.E.M., “Losing My Religion” (1991)

Directed by, Tarsem Singh, R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion” music video drew on various artists for inspiration. Tarsem was inspired by Italian artist, Caravaggio and Russian director, Andrei Tarkovsky. The video is said to also be partially based on Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s short story, “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings.”

5. Lady Gaga, “Applause” (2013)

Lady Gaga’s music video for “Applause,” ARTPOP’s first single was directed by Dutch photographers Inez and Vinoodh. The video calls on various inspirations, from German expressionism to The Birth Of Venus and much more. Read through our full breakdown of “Applause” here.

6. Gotye, “Somebody That I Used To Know” (2011)

Gotye and Kimbra’s bodies are transformed into works of art as they’re painted over in the music video for the smash hit, “Somebody That I Used To Know.” The painting was done by Australian artist Emma Hack who is known for her body art and camouflaging painted bodies against their background.

7. Cars, “Hello Again” (1984)

The Cars’ music video for their ’80s hit “Hello Again” was directed by Andy Warhol. The video pokes fun at sex and violence and Mr. Andy Warhol himself makes a cameo.

8. Bjork, “Human Behavior” (1993)

Bjork’s music video was directed by French film director, Michel Gondry. For “Human Behavior” he was inspired by “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” and Russian animator, Yuriy Norshteyn’s animated short, Hedgehog in the Fog. Michel and Bjork have continued their collaboration and have worked on seven other music videos together.

9. Jay-Z, “Blue Magic” (2007)

Jay-Z, a long-time fan of art has shown off his appreciation of the art world in his lyrics and music videos over the years. Before, “Picasso Baby,” Jay spent time rapping in front of skull painting by Damien Hirst in the Hype Williams directed music video for “Blue Magic.”

10. Madonna, “Bedtime Story” (1995)

Over the years Madonna has sought inspiration and worked closely with many artists. In her music video for “Bedtime Story,” Madonna calls on inspiration from surrealist female painters, Remedios Varo, Leonor Fini, and Dora Carrington. Madonna has said there is a bit of Frida Kahlo inspiration in the video, too. This music video has also been exhibited at various museums and art galleries.