Weekend Artists Series, Part 2: “Is Madonna an Influencer of the Arts?

Al borde de la censura: Madonna y un look revelador (en ropa interior)
(Madonna, 1958- )

I admired her in the 80’s and 90’s because she did whatever she wanted caring little for what the recording establishment had in mind for her or for her career. Madonna had a style of her own and paved the way for many other female singers which I don’t really like, well, except for Lady Gaga, who plays piano very good and has a hell of a voice…

So, let’s not talk about Madonna as singer, dancer, actress, composer and American icon, and talk about her as an art collector and as an influencer of the arts.

To start, she had a relationship with Basquiat in the 80’s when they were both starting to rise in their respective careers. It would be normal to assume she has a lot of his paintings. Since Basquiat did die at the young age of twenty eight, his body of work is certainly limited. And Madonna says that he actually painted black over many of the paintings he had given her. Was it a sign of desperation that suddenly surged after they broke up? Or was Basquiat forecasting the oncoming of the most important black mirrors in our lives, the mobile and the computer screens?

Well during those crazy days of the 1980’s she also “hung-out” with Warhol…naturally…and with Keith Haring…

Madonna also has Frida Kahlo that…supposedly…no one has seen. Critics…at least some of them…say it is an amazing painting. I’ve seen it and I beg to differ. (Well, of course I would as I place little if any value on the work or on the “legend” of Frida Kahlo). In any event the painting was done in 1932 and titled “My Birth”. Khalo might have defined it as a self-portrait, but what it really is I don’t know. She paints herself coming out of her mother’s…again a supposition…womb. Apparently this painting was done during the times that she and Diego Rivera lived in Detroit.

It is said that Madonna owns paintings by many great and not so great artist, but famous ones like Diego Rivera, the very well known Mexican muralist among other things; Man Ray, a very interesting photographer whom I have featured in this blog; Weegee, a fantastic Ukrainian photographer; Tina Modotti, also an outstanding Mexican photographer; Herb Ritts, a great North American photographer, who working in black and white only photographed many famous people including Madonna and even works from the cubist painter Fernand Léger.

Well, so far I am certain that she likes art, especially photography…maybe hers…and that she has the money to collect whatever art she wants. But what about the influencer part? Can it be that “they” think she’s an influencer because she’s rich and famous and has said she is a “fan” of Banksy and of JR? Can it be because she also likes Marylin Minter?

Well, in 2016 she appeared…performing of course…at Art Basel Miami Beach. She appeared onstage at the Faena Forum, around 32nd street and Collins Avenue, Miami Beach. And can you guess who was there to spur on the Material Girl? Well you don’t have to, I will tell you: Ariana Grande; Paris Hilton; Sean Combs; Jeremy Scott; Tracey Emin; the comics Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle and James Corden; Alex Rodriguez; Courtney Love and Sean Penn, who was her first husband. Of course all the big spenders of the art world who never come to Miami…I know because I lived in Miami Beach, and very close to the Faena complex…but who love to party there during Art Basel week.

All in all, to me it’s just another celebrity party like the ones we’ve always heard about that they threw in Hollywood or in Manhattan, except that since Miami Beach got “famous”, the scene has moved there. I don’t believe for one minute that Madonna will influence the art world. She will, and does, influence the business of art and due to her “fame and glory” she can get folks…very rich ones…to spend and spend and spend like there is no tomorrow on “art”. But is it good art? Is it advancing art history? Or is it rubbish?

After all, Frida Kahlo, Banksy, Keith Haring. JR, not exactly the best are they?

You be the judge. Tell me, let me know what you think about this idea that Madonna is an art influencer. Do you believe it? Or do you too have stars in your eyes? Let’s converse about this and about any other aspect of art that you like. Thank you!

A short musical video of some of the works she has collected will follow tomorrow…



  1. Brad Osborne · January 17

    I don’t see her as an influencer in the sense that her interpretation or admiration of a particular artist does not add credence to the quality or creativity of their work. I do think her money and popularity lend themselves to spotlighting an artist, but with little tie to the actual value of the art produced. Of course when fame is followed closely by the sycophants, they may well believe she has some innate ability to critique art. I, however, find her interest in any artist to be of little value in gauging the true value of their works. To be honest, I think it is more an attempt to stay relevant, than any real effort to move the art world forward.

    • NZain · January 17


    • Francisco Bravo Cabrera · January 17

      You are right Brad, and I quite agree. The Miami Beach “art scene” is pure plastic, 100% of it and it becomes a scene where the “beautiful” people meet to be seen and admired by the filthy rich who pay 150,000$ a plate to sit at a fund raising dinner with Madonna. And after all, she still chases money, isn’t she the “material girl?” Besides, of the Madonna of the 80’s/90’s there is little if anything left…All the best my friend,

  2. macalder02 · January 17

    De la Madonna de los 80-90 no queda nada. Tantas cirugías en du rostro que la han cambiado muchísimo.
    Indudablemente que su matrimonio con Basquiat pudo influenciar para ser considerada una referencia en el mundo del arte. Buen domingo Francisco.

    • Francisco Bravo Cabrera · January 17

      Gracias Manuel, y si, ya que ella y Basquiat tuvieron una relacion amorosa, al morir el, ella se quedo con muchas de sus obras, aunque antes que muriera Basquiat, el mismo destriyo muchas de sus propias obras pintandolas de negro. Y claro esta que de la Madonna de los 80/90 no queda nada…
      Un abrazo,

      • macalder02 · January 17

        También para ti Francisco.

  3. markbierman · January 17

    I had no idea that Madonna was an art collector.

    • Francisco Bravo Cabrera · January 17

      Apparently she does have a valuable collection, mostly Basquiat due to the fact that they had a relationship back in the early 80’s…thank you Mark and all the best,

  4. spwilcen · January 17

    Not a fan. Celebrities represent and perpetuate much of what is wrong with society. I’ve low opinion of nearly all of them, including the lady in question. Unlike many of them, I do not consider my opinion any more valuable than celebrities’ and especially when acid don’t feel it my responsibility to try “correct” or guide others. Influencer? Yes. Rightly so? No.

    • Francisco Bravo Cabrera · January 17

      Very well put SP. I quite agree. I liked her a lot during the 80’s and early 90’s because of her personality and because I thought of her as a performer, in the establishment, who broke all the rules regardless and still managed to come out on top…and as an influencer as well, however much I might disagree and besides the photographers, I am no fan of Banksy, Keith Haring, Basquiat or Frida Kahlo. All the best my friend and I hope you had a good weekend!

  5. NZain · January 17

    Aack!!!! 😳

  6. tiffanyarpdaleo · January 19

    She definitely inspired the 10 year old me in 1981, not so much now, but I still have respect for her!

    • Francisco Bravo Cabrera · January 19

      So do I, although I lost interest in her after 1993, I think she still has influence, although I’m not so sure if it’s for the good.
      Thanks and all the best,

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