What are the common point between the rapper Logic and the couple Beyoncé/Jay-Z aka the Carters?
They both went to the Louvre Museum in France, and were inspired by the space for their music, but mostly, they both used the The Wedding at Cana painted by the artist Veronese. One was used for the videoclip, the other for an album cover. And one literally presented the painting as it is while the other slightly changed it.
Yes, I know: I have already talked about the Carter’s use of art in Apeshit, and the previous post was dedicated to Logic’s suicide prevention song (which I did not know it was). In two months, I have found twice The Wedding at Cana used in the music industry, without looking for it. Personally, I think it is really interesting that whatever topic relating to art and music in the U.S., I always find them linked with the same artists or the same art works. There are other relations that I will talk to you about later if you sign up to this letter; but for the moment, I will only focus on this painting. There are specifics reasons why the artists used this particular painting.
Just as The Assumption of the Virgin by the Titien, The Wedding at Cana is one of those paintings where people might not remember the title, the author, or where they saw it; but could definitively recall. These works were painted in the 16th century in Italy, which correspond to the Renaissance, one of the most popular moment in Art History. Moreover, Titien and Veronese were famous artists that are still highly respected and considered as Masters. Finally, The Wedding is exhibited at the Louvre in the Denon Aisle, 1st floor, Room 711. This room is also called the Mona Lisa room. For obvious reasons, this part of the museum is the most visited one, and The Wedding is situated right next to it. For all these reasons, this is certainly why people recall The Wedding at Cana without exactly knowing about it. As artists themselves, the Carters and Logic want their message to be accessible for their fans. This is why they choose pictures that people can recognize.
It has multiple meanings
In their use of the painting, the Carters and Logic changes the initial meaning of the painting. Although there is a wedding, it is really hard to find the newlyweds, don’t you think? The reason is that the main topic in this picture is biblical. Indeed, in the Bible, the wedding is the moment where Christ, in the center, just accomplished his first miracle by changing the water into wine.
Yet, the central figure of Christ is accompanied by more trivial details. He is surrounded by people dressed in luxurious garnishments, either playing music, dancing, or eating and drinking in profusion in a fancy antiquity-style architecture. It is a wedding after all, which rhymes (not literally) with celebration and feast!
The reason why artists would take inspiration or reproduce The Wedding is less because of the themes rather than its visual appearance.
It’s crowded here
In Apeshit’s videoclip, the Carters used the over representation of the human figure to denounce how poorly black figures are represented in the tradition of western art. By doing close ups, they show what is missing.
For his album cover, Logic uses it in a more positive way. Explaining the story behind the album cover on his website, Sam Spratt, the artist who worked on the cover shares that the rapper it was breathtaking seeing it. Indeed, the painting is impressively 6,77 m high (266,5 inch) by 9, 94 m large (391,3 inch), which is more than human size (and much bigger than Mona Lisa btw). Seeing a big painting depicting so much people, Logic felt it was the perfect inspiration for his album Everybody which ambitious project was to represent everyone’s struggle. For the cover, he wanted to represent literally every person who worked on the album with him, or who were important to him.
Even if the Louvre’s website indicates that Veronese might have been helped by his brother, the artist outperformed a painting with 130 persons in a such complex and detailed composition in only 15 months. In comparison, considering the information and the technology accessible nowadays which can facilitate the work, it took approximately an entire year for Sam Spratt to create the cover that depicts a little bit more than 80 persons.
Because of its history, its theme that is easily reinterpretable and its composition, The Wedding at Cana is certainly a classical painting that can be easily reproduced and parodied for different contexts. Apeshit and Everybody’s cover are two examples within the music industry, but I am sure there is more.
Keep your eyes open!