Kanye West has made great effort to position himself as an artbiter of art and design recently, highlighting the influence of Swiss architect Le Corbusier on Yeezus and comparing himself to performance artist Marina Abramovic in interviews. The rapper and producer elaborated on these aesthetic influences on Wednesday night during a talk with architect Jacques Herzog at the Moore Building in Miami's Design District, as a part of the city's Art Basel festivities happening this week.
"My original creative background was fine art," West said. "By the time I was 14, I was in national competitions for art, and I actually went to school for art. Sometimes I actually forget that. Except for when I tour and I look back at the stage and say, 'Wait a second, I forgot this was the whole trick I pulled on everyone to make them think I was a rapper, a musician or celebrity when the entire time it's all been a giant art project.'"
Explaining why he ultimately chose to pursue music over art, West commented: "I thought my opinion wasn't strong enough with what I was painting. When I would see my own work, I never thought I would visually be able to become one of the masters — I thought I had a stronger opinion when I worked on music. I got a stronger response."
West also offered some brief insight into his next album project during the talk. "I think my next album is going to be eight songs," West said. "It's just reducing down the amount of information that you need. People say a design is the point where you can't take anything else away. [Yeezus] was very, very designed. I took a departure from radio and popular music in order to get this seat here. If I hadn't made Yeezus, I wouldn't be sitting here with this cool font at Basel right here."
The discussion, part of Surface Magazine's Design Dialogues talk series, was one of several apperances West made during his visit to this year's edition of Art Basel.
He also had a hand in a performance art piece staged by Yeezus set designer Vanessa Beecroft at Flaunt Magazine's "Affordable Care" group show, and accompanied Kim Kardashian to a Delano Hotel party in honor of artist Marc Quinn.
Kanye was among several major recording artists who made appearances at Art Basel-related events in Miami Wednesday night. Kendrick Lamar put on a brief set at Mana Wynwood, site of Beecroft's performance art piece, while Pharrell, whose own talk on design at last year's Art Basel Miami Beach was crashed by Kanye, performed new music at an event thrown by David Lynch-affiliated Paris venue Silencio.