There’s so much going on in Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s new joint music video, “Apeshit,” it’s completely understandable if the artwork in the video takes a backseat to everything else: the outfits; the dancing; the couple goals. But considering the duo did film the video in the Louvre, which is one of the most famous museums in the entire world, we thought we’d help you identify some of the pieces of art they opted to include in their latest collaboration together. After all, it just gives you one more excuse to go back and watch it (on repeat), right?
Mona Lisa (C. 1503 or later)
The only people who could possibly make the most famous painting in the world even more famous? Beyoncé and Jay-Z. Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is no stranger to screen time, given her many appearances in film and television (Mona Lisa’s Smile and The Da Vinci Code are just two of a litany of examples). The Mona Lisa is also one of the most valuable paintings in the world and holds the Guinness World Record for the highest known insurance valuation in history; in 1962 it was insured for $100 million, which is worth approximately $800 million. But Da Vinci’s masterpiece still can’t hold a candle to Beyonce’s popularity: While the Mona Lisa gets 6 million visitors a year, Beyonce’s Instagram alone has 115 million followers.
The Winged Victory of Samothrace (C. 190 BC)
If you’ve visited the Louvre, you’ve undoubtedly seen The Winged Victory of Samothrace – also called the Nike of Samothrace – which sits above a staircase named for the sculpture. It has been prominently displayed at the Louvre since 1884 and is one of the most celebrated sculptures in the world. The Hellenistic sculpture of Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, created around the 2nd century B.C. appears in a number of scenes in the video – as the backdrop for dancers in flesh-colored bodysuits snaking their way along the staircase and as a stage for Beyoncé, as she crawls along at the base of the work.
Aphrodite of Milo (or Venus de Milo) (C. 100 BC)
Whatever the Aphrodite of Milos lacks in arm movement, Beyoncé certainly makes up for with her dance moves. It is one of the most famous Greek statues and representations of beauty in the world. Perhaps, this is because the work of art is widely recognized for the mystery of her missing arms. The statue was initially attributed to sculptor Praxiteles, but due to an inscription found on the sculpture’s plinth, the statue is now thought to be the work of Alexandros of Antioch (and is thought to have been created somewhere between 130 and 100 B.C.).
The Raft of the Medusa (1818–1819)
If you zoom in past Jay-Z in front of Théodore Géricault’s 19th-century masterpiece, you’ll probably recognize the ominous painting looming over his head: The Raft of Medusa. The iconic painting depicts a moment from the aftermath of the wreck of the French naval ship Méduse in 1816. At least 147 people were left adrift on a poorly constructed raft, and all but 15 died over the course of 13 days before they could be rescued. Those who did survive suffered dehydration and practiced cannibalism on their fellow raftgoers to prevent starvation. The painting portrays the moment of rescue, as the survivors see hope in sight, and climb over one another in an effort to get to the ship that may be their savior, the raft crumbling beneath them.
The Coronation of Napoleon (1806-07)
There are a few reasons why The Coronation of Napoleon by Jacques-Louis David, the official painter of Napoleon, is so well-known. Besides the painting’s sheer size (it depicts the coronation of Napoleon I at Notre-Dame de Paris in the dimensions of 33 feet by 20 feet), it also is famous for not focusing on the moment Napoleon got crowned at his coronation, but when his first wife, Empress Josephine, did. Fans of Jacques-Louis David’s work catch glimpses of other paintings by the artist in the video, but only if they look fast. These include Oath of the Horatii and The Intervention of the Sabine Women.
The Great Sphinx of Tanis (ca. 2600 B.C.)
With the body of a lion and the head of a king, the regal and stoic Great Sphinx of Tanis is a major juxtaposition to the wild dance party Bey and Jay have in the Department of Egyptian Antiquities of the Louvre. The Great Sphinx of Tanis is one of the largest sphinxes that exists outside of Egypt, and could have been created anywhere from 2600 B.C. to 1895 B.C. (it was found in 1825 A.D. among the ruins of the Temple of Amun at Tanis). In Egypt, it is believed that sphinxes protect temples, horizons, and futures.
Portrait d’une négresse (Portrait of a Negress) (1800)
Toward the end of the video, Marie-Guillemine Benoist’s Portrait d’une négress flashes across the screen briefly, but also, perhaps, unsurprisingly. The painter debuted the work of art in 1800, six years after slavery had been abolished in France. Consequently, the work became a symbol for women’s emancipation and black people’s rights.
Francesca da Rimini and Paolo Malatesta appraised by Dante and Virgil (1835)
Here’s one for the biliophiles, but you better look fast if you want to catch it: an oil painting that depicts a scene from Dante’s Inferno of Dante and Virgil, Dante’s guide through hell and purgatory, viewing Francesca da Rimini and Paolo Malatesta in hell. It was often described as Scheffer’s best work.
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