August 12th marked the 33rd anniversary of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s untimely death. He was only 27 when he died, and it is a shame that we are unable to see what he would have done with his career had he not passed at such a young age.
I know that all people, as well as all brands, process grief differently, but y’all need to let that man rest.
In the last year we’ve seen a Basquiat-themed capsule collection from Saint Laurent, a Basquiat shoe collection from DC Shoes, a Basquiat-inspired Brooklyn Nets jersey, and yet another Basquiat collection from Uniqlo.
Now, Tiffany & Co. is getting into the Basquiat game with a new ad campaign featuring Beyoncé, Jay-Z, and a newly unearthed Basquiat painting in the jewelry company’s signature shade of blue.
In an interview with Women’s Wear Daily, Alexandre Arnault, Tiffany’s executive vice president of products and communications, said of Basquiat, “We know he loved New York, and that he loved luxury and he loved jewelry. My guess is that the [blue painting] is not by chance. The color is so specific that it has to be some kind of homage.”
On the other hand, maybe it’s just turquoise.
Jay-Z is a huge Basquiat fan, so it makes sense that he would jump at the opportunity to do a campaign centered around the artist. In addition to buying a $4.5 million Basquiat painting in 2013, the rapper has been sporting a similar hairstyle to the artist in recent months, which he first donned when dressed as Basquiat himself for Halloween in 2014.
According to WWD, Arnault pitched the concept for the campaign to Jay-Z by saying that it would “surface as the world emerges from the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, providing a message of hope and a story built around New York, Basquiat and his marriage with Beyoncé.”
Indeed, if there are three things that give me hope as I re-enter the world after a crushing global pandemic, they are brand collaborations, luxury jewelry, and the resilience of celebrity marriages.
I’m not entirely sure what the story being told with the Tiffany’s Basquiat is, but I do know that it will not be the last time a brand trots out this poor man’s work, may he rest in peace, to inspire me to spend money. I look forward to investing in a beautifully graffitied Diva Cup in two years time.