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Last weekend Kanye West shocked the world and broke the internet when he unveiled the visuals for “Famous” at a packed event in Los Angeles. When the curtains drew, the video depicted 12 of the most famous people on the planet sleeping naked together in the same bed. Among them,  George W. Bush, Donald Trump, Anna Wintour, Rihanna, Chris Brown, Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Ray J, Amber Rose, Caitlyn Jenner, Bill Cosby, and Taylor Swift.

It’s based on the 2008 painting, Sleep, by artist Vincent Desiderio, but Kanye did not consult him for permission or advice before it was complete. Now, writing in W magazine, Desiderio has had his say on the video, and the man who sampled him. Here’s some snippets:

On the video itself:

“The remarkable debut this weekend of Kanye West’s video, “Famous,” was a feat of magic. It held its audience in suspension over a tableau that was disturbingly familiar, rapturously beautiful, and frighteningly uncanny.”

On when Kanye first contacted him:

“It began with a random phone call: “Kanye West is trying to get in touch with Vincent Desiderio. It is extremely important that he return our call.” After a series of missed calls and frantic text messaging I came to learn that I was being invited to fly out to Los Angeles the next morning to meet the acclaimed artist, and that Kanye, “being a tremendous fan” of my work—I’m using quotes, because one hears that phrase so often in the art world that it might as well mean, “I have no idea who you are and please don’t call me out on this”—wanted me to be present at an event the Forum in L.A. No other information was given.”

On the instant bond between him and ‘Ye:

“Kanye stood up and greeted me warmly. We spoke about his new album, “The Life of Pablo,” and about a particular quote by Edgar Degas, about how a painting should be constructed “like the perfect crime.” I ventured that the Pablo referred to in the title was a dual reference to Pablo Picasso and Pablo Escobar. Kanye smiled and said, “St. Paul, too.” His eyes glistened. We were on the same page.”

Head over to W magazine to read the piece in full, including Desiderio’s thoughts on the artistic worth of the video.

After you’re finished, here’s how Reddit is interpreting the now infamous “Famous” visual.

Words by Daniel Pearson
Life Editor

Daniel is the editor of Highsnobiety Life. He grew up in north of England and is now based in Berlin.

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