These essential music videos were inspired by paintings


The old MTV proverb, “behind every good music video is an iconic painting,” is really holding up these days. Okay, maybe MTV proverbs aren’t a real thing but it’s undeniable that some of the best music videos we’ve laid eyes on were inspired by paintings.

For instance, the Carters’ video for “Apesh*t” is what one would call, “a straight up ode to art.” It was filmed inside the Louvre, which is an insane endeavour considering the museum houses some of the most famous art on this damn planet. The video features Jay-Z and Beyoncé hanging around some crazy-important works you should know like THE Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo.

Lady Gaga said that her seven-minute video for “Born This Way,” which won the Best Video award at the 2011 EMA, was inspired by the surrealist paintings of Francis Bacon and Salvador Dali. The video definitely has the vibe of a surrealist painting—it’s packed with trippy imagery and it might leave you feeling like you don’t ‘get’ it.

Ariana Grande’s video for “God Is a Woman” is basically a short art history class. In it, Ariana recreates and then inserts herself into iconic works of art like Georgia O’Keefe’s suggestive “Grey Lines with Black, Blue and Yellow,” and Michelangelo’s meme-status work, “The Creation of Adam.”

Kendrick Lamar’s award-winning video for “Humble” makes a lot of statements using powerful imagery. One of the video’s greatest moments is a reenactment of Leonardo da Vinci’s most recognizable paintings, The Last Supper, with Lamar in Jesus’ seat.

Kanye West’s “Famous” video—one of the EMA’s Best Video nominees of 2016—is as striking as the painting it aims to recreate. The inspiration for the video was Vincent Desiderio’s 24-foot-wide painting, Sleep. Kanye made the painting his own by scandalously filling the bed with naked body doubles of celebrities like Taylor Swift, Kim Kardashian and, of course, himself.

Watch the MTV EMA on Sunday, November 4.