The Sotheby’s Contemporary art gallery in New York presented its new exhibit with help from rapper Drake. “I Like It Like This” presents artwork from prominent African-American artists — including Basquiat and Terry Adkins — and pairs it with music handpicked by Drake. So while you’re admiring a Kehinde Wiley piece, you’ll also be getting crunk with a tune by Jay-Z and Kanye West.
Sean Rameswarem is the host of Sideshow, a podcast from Studio 360 at WNYC, and he talked with the Frame about his recent visit to the exhibit.
Let's talk about this shotgun marriage of Sotheby's, where the richest of the richest spend their waking hours shopping. Drake, in theory like a lot of his musical colleagues, represents the other 99 percent of the world. (Kind of.)
I think it's an attempt to bring in that 99 percent into the 1 percent's playground, but it's great for Sotheby's because a bunch of people want to come see [its] show now, which is open to the public until June 12, just to see what music Drake would want to listen to while looking at a Romare Bearden.
Terry Adkins, "Norfolk" (2012)
One of the things you learn walking through this exhibit is that Drake apparently sees sex everywhere he looks. There are very sexual portraits and images in this exhibit, but sometimes you're just looking at a drum and you're like, 'Drake, what were you thinking?' This must be why you can't maintain a relationship with anyone because you're just thinking about sex when you look at drums and grass.
What kind of future does Drake have or not have in the high-art world?
The really funny quote from Drake's publicist about this exhibit was, Drake isn't a great art collector, but he 'draws a lot of inspiration from visual artists.' So we can only hope that continues to happen because I am fond of his music, and if he's drawing inspiration from Kara Walker and Kehinde Wiley, then why not.
Another funny note is that a lot of the pairings made you sort of scratch your head. You'd see really abstract work paired with a random blues song, and it turns out that Sotheby's said [it] got it wrong and they mismatched a bunch of Drake's selections, which I find very hard to believe. They sent him a bunch of images and he sent back a bunch of songs, but they only had 20 to match and there were, like, 17 staff members in this exhibit when I went there. How could they have messed it up? I think they're dealing with some sort of blowback — people not approving of the pairings.