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When Kanye Met the Artist Who Inspired ‘Famous’ They Had a Genius Mind Meld

Geniuses: They do think alike! When Kanye West dropped his music video for “Famous,” he drew largely from painter Vincent Desiderio’s Sleep, positioning wax figures of famous people in similar states of repose as the bodies in the painting. But what does Desiderio think about Kanye’s homage? In an essay for W Magazine, Desiderio called the video “disturbingly familiar, rapturously beautiful, and frighteningly uncanny.” He loves it! More important, he writes about meeting Kanye, who greeted him “warmly” in Los Angeles to show him the video before its debut at the Forum.

The best moment comes when Desiderio realizes the similarities between his work and Kanye’s: “Could Kanye have seen my painting? There were so many similarities. Yes, it was my painting. It had been sampled, or ‘spliced,’ into a new format and taken to a brilliant and daring extreme!” After he looked “around the room at the smiling faces,” Desiderio writes, “It became apparent that, unbeknownst to me, a remarkable collaboration had occurred.” They had had a genius mind meld without his knowing about it! Desiderio writes, “We concluded that our minds were clearly operating on the same wavelength, albeit from different transmitters.

Desiderio: Kanye’s ‘Famous’ Is ‘Brilliant’