Saturday, February 16, 2008

5131: Fiddy Fine Art.

From The Associated Press…


Hip-hop artists grace the covers of CDs, magazines and billboards.

Add museum walls to that list.

Artists including Kanye West, LL Cool J and 50 Cent are getting the royal treatment in two museum exhibits – “RECOGNIZE! Hip Hop and Contemporary Portraiture” at the Smithsonian Institution and “Holy Hip-Hop!” and the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit -- that feature them in regal poses and traditional painting styles.

At the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, LL Cool J and dozens of other hip-hop artists, including Ice T, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Big Daddy Kane and others are portrayed with the same power and royalty as kings and presidents long passed.

The exhibit will be on view through October. It’s the first Smithsonian Institution exhibit to examine the influence of hip-hop music and style on American art and culture.

In Detroit, a dozen icons of the hip-hop world have been immortalized in a series of paintings created by famed Russian artist Alexander Melamid.

The exhibition “Holy Hip-Hop!” -- in which 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg, Kanye, Common, Lil Jon, Reverend Run, Russell Simmons and clothing designer Marc Ecko are depicted in an artistic style usually reserved for masterpieces of the past -- opened last month at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit.

The paintings’ subjects are presented in relatively low-key poses: Snoop Dogg at a desk, 50 Cent in a chair and Kanye hunched over wearing his signature backpack, a gold chain dangling from his neck.

Melamid relied on the oil-on-canvas method and Old Master-style used centuries ago to depict royalty and noblemen.

Marsha Miro, the museum’s acting director, says there’s a connection between the wealth and influence of kings of the past and today’s hip-hop stars, who are seen as royalty.

Melamid and the museum hope the exhibition sparks discussion of the global impact of hip-hop and how the culture influences ideas about wealth and power.

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