The Carters and the Louvre

The Carters’ APESH**T is a single from their surprise album, Everything is Love. Filmed in the Louvre, it’s a gorgeous visual feast. A review via the Atlantic:

Throughout the video, Beyoncé and Jay-Z borrow inspiration from the strength and grace of women. In the now-iconic first glimpse of the couple, the camera glides toward them as they stand in front of the Mona Lisa, each wearing pastel-colored suits with no shirt underneath. The full-body shot calls attention to Beyoncé’s pants and Jay-Z’s elegant attire as the duo re-create the gaze of the woman in the painting. The other main artwork that orients “Apeshit” is a statue of a goddess, the Winged Victory of Samothrace, which appears to symbolize their success—as individuals and as a couple. At another point in the video, female dancers lying on the stairs beneath the duo resemble a foundation, lifting up the Carters’ “empire” with pulse-like movements. At times, the dancers’ formation calls to mind a spine.

In “Apeshit,” classical art helps define the Carters’ vision of how men and women relate to each other. The video subtly contrasts paintings of suffering in male-controlled societies, such as ancient Rome, with peaceful, present-day scenes of couples who are presumably equals. Perhaps the most striking work showing the toll of male violence is The Intervention of the Sabine Women by Jacques-Louis David. It depicts a group of women—who were kidnapped and raped by Roman soldiers in the eighth century B.C.E.—throwing themselves between their captors and the men of their home city in an effort to stop the war. The tableau, a political statement of its own, highlights the breakdown of order that can occur when women aren’t respected. Later in “Apeshit,” a painting of a crying woman clinging from below to a man in anguish (the two trapped in “hell” for adultery) is followed by a contemporary scene of a black man leaning his head peacefully on the chest of a woman as she holds him. When the two are kissing and caressing one another, they’re at eye level; neither is the more dominant.

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