Beyoncé, Jay-Z, and Basquiat Star in Tiffany’s Latest Campaign, and Other News

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Jay-Z and Beyoncé in the new Tiffany campaign. Photography by Mason Poole for Tiffany & Co.

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Beyoncé, Jay-Z, and a never-before-seen Basquiat star in Tiffany’s latest campaign.

It was impossible to be on the internet yesterday without seeing some sort of reference to Tiffany’s latest campaign, which features celebrity power-couple Beyoncé and Jay-Z posing with Equals Pi (1982), a never-before-seen canvas by Jean-Michel Basquiat in the jewelry brand’s signature robin egg blue. Tiffany recently acquired the artwork, which was in the possession of a private collector since the early 1980s, for the campaign, which is slated to break in print next month. Beyoncé is pictured wearing the famous Tiffany Diamond—known for having 128.54 carats, 82 facets, and only three previous wearers in Mary Whitehouse, Audrey Hepburn, and Lady Gaga—that was originally unearthed in South Africa in 1877. 

Though the campaign certainly feels like a landmark occasion for the jewelry brand, which was acquired by LVMH this past year, it divided critics online. Detractors pointed out that including a rare Basquiat canvas in the campaign felt like a “bastardization” of his work; others countered that his estate, Artestar, has sold him out for, as Diet Prada notes, “t-shirts to an Alice and Olivia Collection, Urban Decay cosmetics, and a Barbie.” Alexandre Arnault, executive vice president of products and communication at Tiffany’s, also noted that his father’s company mounted an exhibition of Basquiat’s work at the Louis Vuitton Foundation a few years back and that “he loved New York, he loved luxury, and he loved jewelry,” he tells WWD. “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.” The artwork will display at Tiffany’s flagship boutique on Fifth Avenue, which is currently undergoing renovation. “It’s a way to modernize Tiffany blue.”  

The comeback concert in Central Park was cut short due to Hurricane Henri.

After several performances from an A-list artist roster and mentions of New York City’s resilience, the comeback concert in Central Park drew to an almighty silence midway after a strike of lightning. The all-star concert, programmed by music record producer Clive Davis, was anticipated to mark the city’s reemergence after a gruelling pandemic despite the surge in coronavirus cases amidst a hyper-contagious Delta variant. Although the threat of Hurricane Henri loomed, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio and CNN remained hopeful of weather conditions. Alas, nature had other plans. 

Diagram courtesy of MIT

The future of prosthetic limb control may be magnetic thanks to innovations at MIT.

MIT is experimenting with a new technology that will change the control of prosthetic limbs from a system based on electrodes in the user’s stump to one that relies on implanted magnetic beads. MIT Professor Hugh Herr says the current technology, known as electromyography (EMG), is less than optimal. “When you use control based on EMG, you’re looking at an intermediate signal,” he says. “You’re seeing what the brain is telling the muscle to do, but not what the muscle is actually doing.” If approved, the new system will improve the speed at which a prosthesis can respond by instantaneously detecting how much each muscle is stretching or contracting, and at what speed.

​​Forensic Architecture’s support for Palestine is rehung at the Whitworth Gallery.

Following a withdrawal of their exhibit due to public backlash and censorship concerns, Forensic Architecture rehung their statement of support for Palestine in a group exhibition at University of Manchester’s Whitworth Gallery. A gallery announcement cemented the reinstallation of FA’s statement against the 11-day bombing campaign that occurred in May. The submission was part of FA’s overall showcase, titled “Cloud Studies,” and denounced the “ethnic cleansing” of Palestine through an environmental and racist lens—it was temporarily withdrawn as pro-Israel faculties decried the exhibit to be a “one-sided” message.

The rising artist Kaari Upson, known for exploring identity and Americana, dies at 51.

A prodigy from the 21st century Los Angeles art scene, Kaari Upson passed away last week due to metastatic breast cancer. In her ability to represent the uncanny, Upson explored the grim aspects of domesticity, desire, and disturbance. Her dystopian scenes tethered her conscious knowledge to her unconscious impulses and rendered, as the late artist described, “a fragmented narrative that you can enter at any point,” and adds, “It’s about where the narrative cracks open, and when something’s missing, I literally plant it with total fantasy: speculation, mirroring personas.” Upton’s most notable works, ranging from The Larry Project to her generation of resin sculptures based on household objects, have been showcased and immortalized in various blue-chip galleries and art museums across the United States.

“Dig a Hole to Put Your Grief In” by Cara Levine. Photography by Nir Yaniv

In Malibu, the artist Cara Levine is digging a hole to bury society’s collective grief. 

The artist Cara Levine is digging a giant hole for people to exorcise their discontentment. “I was really at a loss in my studio about bringing any newness forward. I had a bodily desire to create a cavity that could contain the depth of the grief,” she says, citing the amalgamation of numerous disconcerting events over the past few years, such as COVID-19, police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement, and the increasingly worse news about climate change. Throughout the weeklong project, inspired by the seven-day period of mourning in Judaism called Shiva, she’s inviting others to help dig and/or write messages of their grief on paper embedded with flower seeds to be planted at the end of the week. “Whatever one is grieving is welcome—be it the loss of loved one, or more nuanced and subtle grief—the grief that comes with aging, with watching children grow, loss of friendships, habitat, completions to other life cycles, opportunities, loves, that one won’t see flourish, and so on.”

Black founders are perturbed by the new opportunities for diversity in fashion. 

As Black-owned brands rise in the fashion ranks, some founders question the sustainability of fusing racial identity with corporate brand philosophy. Last summer’s Black Lives Matter protest, reinforced by the 15 Percent Pledge, catalyzed the recognition of niche companies and witnessed a gush in co-op schemes between minority brand owners and major retailers such as Nordstrom, Macy’s, and Sephora. These partnerships, however, are rarely with equal stake: While big-time vendors signpost products as “Black-owned” or “inclusive beauty” to enhance diversity, the long-term implications for brands closely aligning themselves with their ethnic heritage is in the gray as it threatens to alienate a spectrum of clients and to hijack the Intellectual Property Rights of a Black-focused initiative. Àuda.B owner Samara Walker notes: “I don’t think it’s so crucial that you say you’re Black-owned if you have a good product and you have great marketing.”

A GameBoy inspired walkie-talkie by Sidhant Patnaik

Today’s attractive distractions:

Hermès drops a swanky dog bowl crafted using barrel-making techniques.

Peloton seems to be making headway on its long-awaited rowing machine.

Usher in another ‘90s revival with this Game Boy–inspired walkie-talkie.

A Toronto bakery’s X-rated waffles on a stick take social media by storm.

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