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Marco Brambilla, in town for show at Santa Monica Museum of Art, reflects on Kanye West's power

May 20, 2011 |  5:01 pm

“The Dark Lining” at the Santa Monica Museum of Art represents Marco Brambilla's biggest museum exhibition to date as well as the first public showing of his new 3D video “Evolution.” But it doesn’t include the video he made that got the most small-screen play last year: his music video for Kanye West’s hit “Power" (shown above).

Curator Lisa Melandri says, “I actually never considered [including] it, because I felt it was Marco’s vision in the service of a particular product as opposed to completely an autonomous artwork. You’re given the music and given the personality, Kanye West, and I don’t think of it as the same process.”

Brambilla said he agrees with the decision and wouldn’t have wanted the music to compete with the soundtracks of his other works. Still, he talks about the video's artistry, saying that he only took the job because West, who saw Brambilla's “Civilization” video, gave him freedom visually.

The artist took inspiration from religious imagery of Botticelli and Michelangelo, creating a landscape in which West appears as a powerful god-like figure, only surrounded by strippers instead of cherubs.

“Kanye comes across as someone addicted to sensation and also uncomfortable experiencing it, which is compatible with my own work,” Brambilla says. “It was meant to be an epic but intimate portrayal of someone dealing with conflict.”

Since then, Brambilla says he’s turned down requests to work with Katy Perry and Justin Bieber so he can stay focused on his new work.  “At least they’re asking me to do it instead of asking someone else to copy it,” he says. “The art world has become the R&D department for so much fashion and music, so knock-offs are getting better and better.”

Click here for the full interview with Brambilla, with more on the new works that are featured in the Santa Monica show.


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 Image: a still from Marco Brambilla/Kanye West's "Power," 2010, from the artist's web site.