Kanye West Wanted His Album Banned


Some interesting, albeit not really surprising, news: According to Calvin Tomkins’ profile of George Condo in this week’s New Yorker, Kanye West wanted the cover art for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy to get his album banned — because he wanted more publicity. From the feature:

“West came to Condo’s studio, where for several hours they listened to tapes of his music, and over the next few days Condo made eight or nine paintings. Two of them were portraits of West, one in extreme closeup, with mismatched eyes and four sets of teeth. Another showed his head, crowned and decapitated, placed sideways on a white slab, impaled by a sword. There was also a painting of a dyspeptic ballerina in a black tutu, a painting of the crown and the sword by themselves in a grassy landscape, and a lurid scene of a naked black man on a bed, straddled by a naked white female creature with fearsome features, wings, no arms, and a long, spotted tail. West chose that one.”

Condo’s mid-career survey exhibition, which will feature more than eighty paintings and sculptures, opens at the New Museum on January 26th. Let us know if you think any of his Kanye-commissioned covers (which are pictured after the jump, with commentary from Condo) should make the cut.

“That’s a good painting. She’s a kind of fragment, between a sphinx, a phoenix, a haunting ghost, a harpy. And then Kanye is also in some sort of strange 1970s burned-out back room of a Chicago blues club having a beer — so far away from the real Kanye West that it’s just a scream.”

“It’s sort of cubist, you know, this portrait with all these different dimensions to it. Like an African mask with almost a modern face. I wanted to get that feeling that he’s almost a Miles Davis-like guy.”

“His tragedy was a kind of exile that Kanye imposed upon himself. He was free from exile by having the cathartic moment in the image. He’s alive in the painting, you know what I mean? In a strange way it’s like, he opened his eyes.”

“We were hanging around one night, and we were listening to that tune ‘Runaway,’ and somehow Kanye grabbed onto that idea of the ballerina. He just said, ‘Hey man, I’d like to have a great ballerina painting.’ I thought of a ballerina toasting. You know, ‘let’s toast to the scumbags.'”

“[Kanye and I] talked about paintings in the early baroque era depicting religious figures, and wanted to push that out into the open in today’s world. It mirrors the ‘paranoid’ riff on one of the tracks.”

All images and quotes via Vulture.