When you think of art, performance, and literature, the first place you think of is Paris. Arguably the cultural capital of the world, Paris has a rich history of supporting artists, exhibiting art, and producing sophisticated classical and modern music and opera. Paris has long been the destination for artists to further their creative talent.
As a modern expression of this lofty position that Paris holds in the arts world, Beyoncé and Jay-Z have just released their video for the song “Apes**t” from their new album, Everything is Love. It’s hard to think of better artists to mine the dissonance between high art at the Louvre and popular music, with grinding hips and profanity. The video provides a cultural commentary mixing pop vs. classical, history vs. today’s hot-button topics, and conservative vs. transgressive. Layers of suggested meaning emanate from the juxtaposition of live and painted or sculpted bodies, but also from the image of modern cultural icons amidst the more staid, establishment atmosphere of the Louvre.
The choice of the esteemed Louvre, with the most famous painting in the world, the Mona Lisa, as well as other canonical paintings and sculptures, is not simply to elevate popular music to the level of high art, or to feature the artists in the most luxurious museum in the classiest city in the world. The Louvre offers a setting where the near absence of black artists or subjects highlights the agency of Beyoncé as both the artist and the subject of her own art; a black woman at the top of her profession using the dignified space of high art to comment on her own place in the artistic world. The melding of pop music with classical visual art has enough ambiguity in “Apesh*t” to spawn many interpretations, theories, and speculations on the intended meaning.
It is not all about meaning, though. Culture, both visual and performance, involves pleasure. The pleasure of looking at a painting or watching a music video. The immersion in an artistic process of viewing that brings you to a new, inarticulable experience of art. The lure of culture draws you into the experience of art, no matter how hard you try to analyze your appreciation.
Beyond the meaning or the enjoyment of art, there is the business side. Two of the most successful cultural icons in pop music are Jay-Z and Beyoncé. Both have not only artistic talent, vision, and drive, but a strong business sense. Monetizing their art and their fame is part of the magic that this power couple brings to Paris in this striking, somewhat puzzling video in the Louvre. Arts and cultural management requires skill, talent and experience. Beyoncé and Jay-Z have shown a mastery of the business side of entertainment that many can only dream of. They reveal what they choose of their personal life, excavate large payouts for their cultural contributions, and then simultaneously mock and exalt our love of their work in “Apesh*t”.
No matter what you think of the new Jay-Z and Beyoncé video shot at the Louvre, it certainly highlights what a central place in cultural commerce Paris plays. At the crossroads of Europe, firmly rooted in Western classical culture, but open to innovation and outside influence, Paris is where the artists gather. And with the creative process comes the management of the arts. From a robust arts culture flows a solid economic foundation for the whole culture. Managing cultural institutions, arts venues, and the cultural sector is an ever-expanding profession, and Paris provides fertile ground for aspiring managers as well as artists.
For those interested in arts management, from experimental to popular to classical, Paris is a great place to work or study. Aside from a robust art scene, Paris boasts first-rate universities, top-notch international businesses, and an international mix of people. As a case study in cultural commerce, Paris simply cannot be beat.
Think of Paris as your destination if you are interested in international arts management. The premier international destination for artists both visual and performing, Paris is the perfect milieu to delve into the intricacies of the business of culture. From large institutions like the Louvre and Pompidou Centre to smaller galleries and music venues, Paris has it all. Pop music, classical opera, modern design, theatre, and most of all, Paris values the arts like no place else on earth. Paris simply would not be the cultural and financial center it is today without its arts. Come, join the lively arts scene in Paris for your Msc in Arts & Cultural Management at PSB!