A Brief History Of Kanye West’s Work With Vanessa Beecroft

Ye and the Italian conceptual artist are a match made in wolf heaven.

February 11, 2016

Vanessa Beecroft, Kanye West performance #TBT 04 December 2013 #VanessaBeecroft #KanyeWest #Miami

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The Italian conceptual artist Vanessa Beecroft has been attracting a heavy stream of attention since Kanye West announced that tomorrow's Yeezy Season 3 drop at Madison Square Garden will feature a performance from her—the third of their three fashion show collaborations.


Beecroft is best known in the art world for her multimedia sculptures and "living paintings," which consist of mostly nude women. Back in 2008, West told the L.A. Times, “I’ve always been a fan of Vanessa’s work. I like the idea of nudity. There’s irony in that.” When asked about West in an recent interview with It's Nice That, Beecroft explained, “One day I was approached by Kanye but I wasn’t too aware of who he was because I tend to only listen to classical music. He was extremely kind and asked me to choreograph a performance for his 808s & Heartbreak private listening party in 2008. I was going through a divorce and I started to think that maybe he was my black, male alter-ego." Here's a brief history of the West-Beecroft collaboration since then.

The 808s And Heartbreak Listening Party (October 2008)


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A photo from West and Beecroft's 2008 listening party.  

The very first collaboration between West and Beecroft was for the previously mentioned 808s & Heartbreak listening party at the Ace Gallery in Los Angeles in 2008. The Instagram above is a snapshot of what Beecroft's work at the event looked like. Here's some vintage reporting from The FADER's #rare experience at the event:

"After waiting in a loading area with an open bar and a DJ, we walked up a driveway illuminated by florescent lights to a darkened room where approximately forty nude women, most of them wearing face-obscuring masks seemingly made of faux lamb's wool, stood in the middle—black girls in the front, white girls in the back. Then the entire album played without introduction or explanation. The women were backlit by glowing lights—mostly red and purple, sometimes strobing, often pulsing and sporadically illuminating."

"Runaway" Short Film Art Direction (October 2010)

Beecroft was the art director for West's 35-minute music video/short film, evident in the statuesque poses of the ballet dancers and figures sitting around a long dining table.

"Affordable Care" Art Basel Opening (December 2013)

Vanessa Beecroft, Kanye West performance #TBT 04 December 2013 #VanessaBeecroft #KanyeWest #Miami

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To many art aficionados' distinct surprise, Kanye West worked with Vanessa Beecroft for the opening performance of 2013's Art Basel, which was a bit before it became common to spot hip-hop stars at the chi chi Miami art fair.

The YEEZUS Tour Stage Design and Choreography (October 2013 - September 2014)


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One of Ye's most epic tours to date looked as crazy as it did thanks to Beecroft, who crafted the massive structures and choreographed those (nearly-faceless) masked women.

Kardashian-West Wedding Decorations (May 2014)

Vanessa Beecroft #vanessabeecroft #sculpture #human #woman #blank #canvas #performance

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When Kim and Kanye decided to up and get married in Italy on what was essentially a whim (one that cost $12 million), it was Beecroft who provided the party's very high end decorations, some of which were originally exhibited in Milan's Galleria Lia Rumma.

"Only One" Video Art Direction (January 2015)

It is no secret that North West's parents love her a lot and West's "Only One" is a beautiful display of that In addition to art directing the stark and beautiful "Only One" video, featuring North and her daddy, Beecraft also gave some toy wolves to North as a gift.

"I was complaining about a lot of the toys that my daughter has, like, these toys don't have enough qualities, soul, life, energy in them," West said in an interview with Clique TV. "And then Vanessa Beecroft brought her these wolves that were very lifelike and had so much creativity put into the way they were made, and when my daughter saw them she started screaming and running around and it was the happiest I'd ever seen her."

In his impromptu lecture at Oxford University, he told students, "Vanessa is very focused, she's like my eyes, she's a piece of my brain. She bought my daughter these three wolves, knowing the whole collection, that it'd play with the song 'Wolves,' and based on this concept." They get each other.

Yeezy Boost Presentation Performance (February 2015)

For the presentation of his very first Yeezy drop, West hit up Beecroft to create one of her living paintings made up of Yeezy Season 1 models and, obviously, the show made massive waves. He also premiered his song "Wolves" at this show which is set to be on T.L.O.P. See what the whole thing (feat. Russell Simmons & Travi$ Scott) looked like .

Yeezy Season 2 Presentation Performance (September 2015)

West followed up his first Yeezy season with a second, (now prematurely legendary, unprecedentedly influential) Yeezy season...and another Beecroft performance to kick it off.

Read about how Ye made the world respect his designs, and what you need to know about the Yeezy Season 2 zine party.

808s & Heartbreak Concert Choreography (October 2015)

Though Beecroft only contributed a little bit to this Hollywood Bowl concert in which West performed all of 808s, her effect was significant, as you can see from stunning images of this large group of men covered in clay. (Here's how the show went down if you want to relive it.)

Album Listening and Yeezy Season 3 Presentation Performance (February 2016)

You'll be able to stream it on Tidal today at 4 p.m.

A Brief History Of Kanye West’s Work With Vanessa Beecroft