Jay-Z and Beyonce have become the new faces of Tiffany & Co in the hope that the couple would attract a new generation of luxury consumers.
In the initial ad, Jay-Z is posed with clothing and hair much like Basquiat’s. Beyonce is posed in an Audrey Hepburn-esque dress and gloves, with the famous 128-carat Tiffany diamond around her neck.
In the background of the ad is Basquiat’s 1982 painting, Equals Pi. Tiffany’s bought the painting for advertising purposes. Alexandre Arnault, the executive Vice President of products and communications at Tiffany, told Women’s Wear Daily “We know his family. We did an exhibition of his work at the Louis Vuitton Foundation a few years back. We know he loved New York and that he loved luxury and he loved jewelry. My guess is that the [blue painting] is not by chance. The color is so specific that it has to be some kind of homage.”
Friends of Basquiat, like Stephen Torton, who worked with the artist, posted his doubts about Basquiat’s ‘homage’ on Instagram: “I designed and built stretchers, painted backgrounds, glued drawings down on canvas, chauffeured, travelled extensively, spoke freely about many topics and worked endless hours side by side in silence. The idea that this blue background, which I mixed and applied was in any way related to Tiffany Blue is so absurd that at first I chose not to comment. But this very perverse appropriation of the artist’s inspiration is just too much.”
Basquiat’s brilliant art work was anti-establishment, and often paid homage to Black musicians, political and community leaders. He used an incredibly wide color pallet.
In his work, titled Phooey, available at Surovek Gallery, there is a wide range of colors, including a blue that is close to Tiffany’s.
On the upside, Tiffany’s collaboration with Jay-Z and Beyonce, and the ad, may introduce a new generation to the incredible work of an artist whose career was cut short, at age 27, but who has left an indelible mark on the art world.
Vanessa Friedman. The Mystery of That Basquiat Painting — and Its Tiffany Blue. The New York Times. September 4, 2021.
Sammy Su. JAY-Z and Beyonce’s Tiffany Ad Upsets Basquiat’s Friends and Collaborators. Hypebeats/HypeArt. September 7, 2021.
MyArtBroker. Basquiat Under The Hammer: Top Ten Most Expensive Works Ever Sold.
Victoria Moorwood. JAY-Z and Beyoncé pose in front of unearthed Basquiat painting in first Tiffany & Co. ad. Revolt. August 23, 2021.