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From Miley to Kanye, these nine celebrities have made their mark in the art world


Celebrities often refer to their work as their art, perhaps in an attempt to be taken more seriously by both their fans and the industry.

If it's any example, the past year has been a time for visual albums to shine, from BeyoncĂ©'s "Lemonade" to Frank Ocean's "Endless." Drake made a short film titled "Please Forgive Me," while Kanye West wrote that his tweets are "a form of contemporary art." And Bob Dylan was recently awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in one of the clearest demonstrations of the artistic merit of song lyrics.

Drawn to 'traditional' art

But it shouldn't come as a surprise when musicians and actors are drawn to more traditional art forms. It takes an immense amount of creativity to write a hit single, to be emotional in front of an audience nightly, or even maintain a carefully curated celebrity persona. 

But how well can that creativity translate into paintings and performance pieces? Though often receiving mixed reviews, these nine celebrities have crossed over to make their mark on the art world.

FKA twigs created an immersive performance piece called "Rooms."

This October, FKA twigs created "Rooms," a Halloween-inspired art exhibition consisting of a dozen installations by 12 artists.

All of the rooms were remarkably different, creating a fully immersive experience. The artists each were assigned a zodiac sign and asked to interpret it in their design of the room.

Throughout the four floors of the exhibit, performances occurred simultaneously, and visitors were encouraged to travel the exhibit at their own pace. 

FKA twigs herself was one of the performers, and a review on The Fader said there was "an obvious clamor to follow [her] through the spaces" during the preview on October 26.

In a grey room resembling an office, FKA twigs tied a telephone cord around a female performer's throat and kissed her on the mouth. There was also a Libra-themed room, in which FKA twigs admired her reflection and "killed" a performer with a handheld mirror. She also performed with notable French artist Olivier de Sagazan, rubbing each other's bodies with clay. 

Miley Cyrus exhibited her "Dirty Hippie" installation with Jeremy Scott during NYFW.

During New York Fashion Week in 2014, Miley Cyrus sent her kaleidoscopic jewelry collection down Jeremy Scott's runway.

She also displayed sculptures made up of a psychedelic, sparkly, sometimes sexual medley of items: a vibrator that a fan threw on stage, junk that she acquired at airports during her tour, a 5-foot tall bong covered in leis and the rave bracelets known as "kandi." 

"I had a bunch of fucking junk and shit, and so... I turned it into something that made me happy," Cyrus told V Magazine of her motivation to create art.

Jay-Z performed "Picasso Baby" in a durational performance piece at the Pace Gallery.

After watching artist Marina Abramovic's 736-hour and 30-minute performance of "The Artist Is Present" at the MoMA, Jay-Z was inspired to create a durational piece of his own. So he went to the Pace Gallery in New York City and rapped for six hours. 

As guests took their turn sitting on a bench in the middle of the gallery, Jay-Z performed for them on a platform. Eventually, he'd leave the platform and encourage them to dance. The performance was ultimately turned into a video for "Picasso Baby," although it's cut down to just eight minutes. 

James Franco has also exhibited at the Pace Gallery (and at a ton of other galleries too).

James Franco loves to paint. His paintings have been displayed in a number of places, ranging from his high school in Palo Alto to London's Siegfried Contemporary. Franco's sense of humor often comes through in his work, whether it's his series of obese animals (called "Fat Squirrel") or a naked portrait of Seth Rogen.

Art runs in the family for Franco. His maternal grandmother, Mitzie Verne, was a well-respected art dealer and the owner of Verne Gallery in Cleveland. Franco and his brother Tom displayed their paintings in the family gallery.

The art world remains undecided on the merits of Franco's art. At Pace, he recreated Cindy Sherman's "Untitled Film Stills" to much criticism. Sherman herself said: "I don't know that I can say it's art." But the harsh reviews have yet to stop Franco from creating.

He later explained his work to legendary art critic Jerry Saltz in a conversation for Vulture.

Franco has also supported fellow celebrities in their pursuits of fine art. In 2014, he wrote an article for the New York Times defending Shia LaBeouf's performance art.

Tilda Swinton slept in a glass box at the MoMA while a crowd watched her.

Tilda Swinton first performed "The Maybe" at the Serpentine Gallery, in collaboration with installation artist Cornelia Parker. She later brought the work to the atrium of the Museum of Modern Art.

"It sure doesn't hurt that Swinton's aura is fabulously complex, sexual, asexual, mysterious, powerful, impish," wrote Saltz in his review. However, he also dismissed the work as the MoMA "narcissistically puffing its celebrity feathers." While not everyone was impressed, many gathered to view the celebrity in her sleeping state. 

Kanye West turned his music video for "Famous" into an art exhibit.

Kanye's controversial music video for "Famous" came to life at Blum & Poe, a Los Angeles gallery. The eerily lifelike bodies of notable figures ranging from Taylor Swift to Donald Trump slept on a bed for a crowd of equally high-profile people to view. 

The uncanny sculpture is a recreation of a painting called "Sleep" by Vincent Desiderio and the result of much research on what the subjects' naked bodies would actually look like. West attended the gallery opening virtually, appearing on a video monitor while preparing for his Saint Pablo tour.

Drake curated an exhibit featuring black contemporary artists with Sotheby's.

In collaboration with Drake, Sotheby's displayed work by influential black American artists at S|2, their private gallery space. The exhibit featured major names in the contemporary art scene, from Kehinde Wiley to Kara Walker.

Drake provided his talents in the form of musical curation, meaning he chose songs to accompany the different works of art. There were sound stations with Beats by Dre headphones in front of the pieces. Drake's soundtrack added a second sensorial experience to the visual aspect of viewing art.

Shia LaBeouf watched all of his movies, hitchhiked across America, and so much more.

Shia LaBeouf is as much a performance artist as he is an actor. His performances are often live-streamed spectacles titled with a hashtag. In #ELEVATE, he stayed in an elevator for 24 hours and talked about his worldview with students at Oxford University. In #ALLMYMOVIES, he sat in a New York theater and watched all of his movies in reverse chronological order.

During #TAKEMEANYWHERE, LaBeouf traveled across the entire country by hitchhiking. He displayed his coordinates on a website and invited people to pick him up.

#IAMSORRY might be LaBeouf's most controversial and well-known performance, following his statement that a woman raped him during it.

Like Jay-Z, LaBeouf was inspired by Marina Abramovic. He sat in a Los Angeles gallery as visitors were invited in to meet with him one-on-one.

According to LaBeouf, one woman entered the space and began to whip him, eventually stripping his clothes and raping him. "There were hundreds of people in line when she walked out with disheveled hair and smudged lipstick," he told Dazed.

Pharrell Williams curated an exhibit at Galerie Perrotin in Paris.

Pharrell Williams is no stranger to the world of art and design. He has designed furniture, partnered with textile companies, and collaborated on sculptures with notable artists like Daniel Arsham and Takashi Murakami.

His Paris exhibit, titled "G I R L" after his album of the same name, was dedicated to the theme of femininity. Of the 37 artists on display, 18 were women, including Marina Abramovic and the Guerrilla Girls.

"Artworks teach you how to live and think differently," said Williams in the press statement.

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