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Artist James Turrell "Truly Flattered" That Drake Ripped Off His Work in New Video

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The works of artist James Turrell have been described as mind-altering experiences that contort reality and change people’s ability to perceive truth. Apparently this happened to Drake, who after seeing Turrell’s art in person, copied it almost exactly in a new video.


Hotline Bling” features the Degrassi alum dancing inside glowing geometric environments that slowly change color, which all look very similar to the work of the iconic Light and Space artist.

But in a surprising statement, Turrell apparently doesn’t mind.


James Turrell, Breathing Light, 2013, LED light into space, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, purchased with funds provided by Kayne Griffin Corcoran and the Kayne Foundation (M.2013.1) © James Turrell, photo © Florian Holzherr.

Turrell’s work was recently featured in a retrospective at LACMA. In a Rolling Stone profile of Drake—a profile that begins in his backyard grotto at a compound named Yolo Estates—Drake visits LACMA to see the show, where he dances in one of the installations while his assistant takes photos of him:

Inside the next installation, a LACMA guide named Jason says something like, “If you look long enough, you’ll notice that your sense of depth begins to . . . ,” but Drake is busy having his assistant snap pictures of him. In one shot, Drake throws up his arms in a crucifix pose; he gazes off morosely in another.


It’s almost like he’s doing shot-by-shot pre-production for “Hotline Bling,” if you think about it.

Later, Drake admits that Turrell has been a creative influence:

“I fuck with Turrell. He was a big influence on the visuals for my last tour.”

“Fucking” must be the new “appropriating.” Music videos are known for borrowing concepts from film and TV for sure but this is a little different—most of Turrell’s art isn’t even allowed to be photographed. Hyperallergic has some comparisons of the video alongside Turrell’s works and come on.

Still from Drake’s video compared with Amrta 2011 Ganzfeld © James Turrell, photo © Florian Holzherr, via Hyperallergic

But don’t worry, Turrell has a great sense of humor about the whole thing, maybe. In a blog post by his lawyer, entitled “What a Time to Be Alive,” Turrell provides the following statement:

“While I am truly flattered to learn that Drake f*cks with me, I nevertheless wish to make clear that neither I nor any of my woes was involved in any way in the making of the Hotline Bling video.”


That’s not a typo, James Turrell said woes. Lesson: Maybe don’t fuck with Turrell?

[The Art Law Blog via Hyperallergic, Stereogum]