- A Basquiat painting features in a new Tiffany & Co campaign with Beyoncé and Jay Z.
- His friends and collaborators have complained, saying it didn’t represent him.
- One said his art should be accessible in a museum.
Beyoncé and Jay-Z starred in a new Tiffany & Co. campaign alongside a “priceless” necklace and an artwork by Jean-Michel Basquiat that had not been publicly displayed before.
But the late artist’s friends and collaborators are not pleased.
Alexis Adler, who lived with Basquiat between 1979 and 1980, told The Daily Beast: “I’d seen the ad a couple days ago and I was horrified.”
“The commercialization and commodification of Jean and his art at this point — it’s really not what Jean was about,” she said.
The artwork used in the campaign was part of a private collection, and Tiffany’s owner later bought it.
Insider has contacted representatives for Tiffany & Co., Beyoncé, and Jay-Z for comment.
Adler said that Basquiat, who died aged 27 in 1988, would want his art to be in museums and be accessible.
“Unfortunately, the museums came to Jean’s art late, so most of his art is in private hands and people don’t get to see that art except for the shows. Why show it as a prop to an ad?” she told The Daily Beast.
“Loan it out to a museum. In a time where there were very few Black artists represented in Western museums, that was his goal: to get to a museum.”
Stephen Torton, who worked as Basquiat’s assistant, also told The Daily Beast that Tiffany would not have respected Basquiat when he was alive: “They wouldn’t have let Jean-Michel into a Tiffany’s if he wanted to use the bathroom, or, if he went to buy an engagement ring and pulled a wad of cash out of his pocket. We couldn’t even get a cab.”
Torton and art-world curators also said that Basquiat did not intend the blue in his artwork to resemble Tiffany’s signature blue either.
Torton said on Instagram: “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.”
And a longtime curator of Basquiat’s paintings, who asked not to be named, told The Daily Beast that he did not believe Basquiat was referencing the Tiffany blue, but said that, even if it had, “it wouldn’t be used to sell Tiffany’s but to say something critical, maybe about blood diamond-extraction or something. I just think it’s a reach.”
This is not the first time that Basquiat’s art has been used as part of a commercial collaboration. It has previously been used by other brands, including luxury labels.