The long-rumored Beyoncé and JAY-Z collaborative album EVERYTHING IS LOVE arrived without warning, and with it came “APESHIT”, a jaw-dropping visual for the project’s standout hit. Even by their lofty standards, this video is next level.
Granted access to film entirely inside the Louvre, it finds Bey and Jay giving us a private tour of the famed Parisian museum, casually flexing and getting up close and personal with some of the most iconic, priceless works of art in human history. Here, we break them all down by piece by piece.
“Galerie d’Apollon” – Second School of Fontainebleau, 1661
The so-named “Gallery of Apollo” is an enormous chamber in the Louvre which first began construction in 1661. It became the first Royal Gallery for King Louis XIV, who would go on to use it as the model for the infamous Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles.
“Mona Lisa” – Leonardo da Vinci, 1503-06
One of the most recognizable faces in art history, Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” is just as famous for being surprisingly small (and infamously difficult to approach through the Louvre’s huge crowds). This is not a problem for Bey and Jay, who admire it at multiple points in the video without interruption and feature it on the album cover.
“Winged Victory of Samothrace” – 200-190 BC
The sculpture “Winged Victory of Samothrace” is placed at the focal point of one of the Louvre’s many cavernous antechambers, an impressive layout that Bey and Jay’s backup dancers make excellent use of. The statue’s creation dates back to around the year 200 BC, and depicts Nike – the Greek goddess of victory.
“Oath of the Horatii” – Jacques-Louis David, 1784
Emblematic of the Neocloassical style, we catch brief glimpses of “Oath of the Horatii”, a depiction of a scene from Roman mythology. It was conceived by Jacque-Louis David, who we will see much more of in just a moment.
“Great Sphinx of Tanis” – 2600 BC
A highlight of the Louvre’s collection of antiquities, the Great Sphinx of Tanis dates all the way back to the year 2600 BC. It’s one of more than 50,000 pieces of Egyptian art in their collection, a result of colonial Europe’s immense plundering of artifacts that Bey and Jay gloriously send up throughout the video.
“The Coronation of Napoleon” – Jacques-Louis David, 1805-07
Our friend David makes a much splashier appearance with this painting, a stunning depiction of Napoleon’s self-coronation as Emperor after conquering Europe in 1804. As Napoleon’s official painter, David held nothing back in this colossal undertaking – the canvas measures about 33 feet wide and 20 feet tall. Clearly, it’s an ideal backdrop for some line dancing.
“The Intervention of the Sabine Women” – Jacques-Louis David, 1799
Another stunner by David, this battle scene depicts an early legend of Ancient Rome with chaos and gore – perhaps a result of the painter being imprisoned at the time he started work on the painting.
“Portrait of Madame Récamier” – Jacques-Louis David, 1800
David strikes again. Commissioned by a famous Parisian socialite in 1800, Madame Récamier’s figure is juxtaposed beautifully by that of two of Beyoncé’s dancers.
“The Raft of the Medusa” – Théodore Géricault, 1818-19
JAY-Z spends his verse chilling at the museums’ pyramid sculpture outside and in front of “The Raft of the Medusa”, a lynchpin of the Romantic movement by Théodore Géricault. It’s a pretty messed up painting to hang with, as it depicts the true story of sailors forced to survive by eating each other while lost at sea.
“The Charging Chasseur” – Théodore Géricault, 1812
Géricault gets another brief shout with this painting – a man on horseback with some seriously enviable hat game.
“Venus de Milo” – 130-100 BC
It doesn’t get more iconic in the world of sculpture than the “Venus de Milo”, an imagining of the goddess of love that famously has lost its arms since its creation around 100 BC. Given this album’s theme, it makes obvious sense that Bey and Jay would feature it.
“Portrait of a Negress” – Marie-Guillemine Benoist, 1800
Very effectively appearing for a single shot towards the video’s end, the inclusion of “Portrait of a Negress” by Marie-Guillemine Benoist is a powerful visual reminder of the ways that the black community has been (and still is) fetishized and commodified for centuries. The very existence of the “APESHIT” video is a bold, powerful declaration of black excellence supplanting this notion at the apex of Western culture.
Check out the full production credits to ‘Everything Is Love’ right here.