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Vanessa Thorpe in The Observer reports that :
Pop star or avant-garde artist? Lady Gaga wants to be the next Warhol
Stefani Germanotta has conquered the pop world as Lady Gaga, and now she wants to be taken seriously in the art world. As she heads for London, we ask some ‘real’ artists to rate her chances
Lady Gaga’s body has been the focus recently more than her wardrobe this summer because of a series of nude photo sessions for the next cover of V Magazine , and work with the avant-garde Serbian artist Marina Abramovic.
It’s all part of a concerted association with the art world that is to be clinched next month with the launch of a social media app that seeks “to make connections between music, art, fashion and technology”.
Cynics may wonder whether the move towards a legitimate artworld platform is simply a strategy to refresh the Gaga brand. And yet the connection with pop art has credibility, not only because of her ironic epigrams about “lying profusely” in interviews, or her preoccupation with fame (her bestselling debut album of 2008 was called The Fame), but because she has picked up on abiding themes in the work of Warhol, the artist who once said: “Making money is art, and working is art, and good business is the best art.”
The movement known as pop art began in Britain in the mid-50s, but was taken to the heart of New York’s art scene by artists such as Roy Lichtenstein and Warhol, who wanted to steer culture away from its association with elite groups. Irony and kitsch became central elements, as did highlighting the methods by which art was being reproduced for the masses. As a well-heeled Manhattan student, the young Gaga’s thesis was on the art of Damien Hirst and the New York-based photographer Spencer Tunick. This weekend Tunick said that he approved of the singer’s use of her “phenomenal success”. “Any time there is a new perception within the mass culture, there is growth and enlightenment. Whether it’s through museums, mass media and, in Lady Gaga’s case, music, the inclusion of depth and art into a viral expressive mass outlet like pop music is invaluable in the expansion of new ideas. Hats off to Lady Gaga.”
Tunick said Gaga’s involvement would “bring a new perception or an experience of the avant garde to a mass audience”: “Any artistic intervention into the masses will only move societies in borderline conservative countries to have more acceptance towards human rights issues, women’s rights and artistic freedom. Art cannot change the world within a bubble. It takes artists like Warhol, Koons and Abramovic to make strong waves of change in conservative societies.”
Pop music’s links to the avant garde date back to its birth and were solemnised when Yoko Ono married John Lennon. More recently, while the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has recorded a rock track, Abramovic has worked with Jay-Z. Watch the JayZ Promo
Gaga first talked of working with the performance artist in 2010 and has just made a Kickstarter video to raise funds for a centre for the practice of Abramovic’s patented exercises, designed to train artists for physical endurance. “She is a hardcore student,” she said of Gaga. “I had to blindfold her, and she was in the forest for three hours, eaten by mosquitoes and spiders, scratched by the bushes. It was quite incredible.”
Gaga has also worked with the Canadian artist Terence Koh, performing together in Tokyo to an ecstatic, if bewildered, crowd at a cosmetics promotion. “When I’m around Terence I just want to poop out art ideas nonstop,” she has said. Koh sounds less convinced, concluding: “Art is a diamond. The rest is just soft, silk pillows for art to tear apart.”
Artpop is due for release in November.
POP ART VS. ART POP: WHAT THEY SAY
‘If you want to know all about Andy Warhol, just look at the surface of my paintings and films and me, and there I am.’ – Andy Warhol
‘Pop art looks out into the world. It doesn’t look like a painting of something.’ – Roy Lichtenstein