Pop culture and Parisian museums mixed when Jay-Z and Beyoncé—also known as “the Carters”—debuted their joint music video, “Apesh**t,” on June 16, 2018.
During the music video, the pop stars can be seen with a posse of dancers, grooving and grinding in front of famous artworks that span more than three millennia at The Louvre. Most of the masterpieces chosen to appear in the video depict scenes of power, suffering, or female beauty.
Arguably the “centerpiece” of the sensational music video is Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa.” In front of this artwork, Jay-Z, in a mint green suit, and Beyoncé, in a silk rose suit, pose around the artwork, while another woman combs a man’s hair in front of the artwork. This part of the music video has been widely captured as a still image for the album cover.
In another shot, two women in skin-colored jumpsuits sit back-to-back and share the same white-cloth hair piece. The artwork featured behind the two is Jacques-Louis David’s piece from the 1800s, “Portrait of Madame Recamier.” The painting highlights a wife of a banker and Parisian socialite, Juliette Recamier.
Additional artworks spotlighted in “Apesh**t” include, “The Winged Victory of Samothrace,” “Oath of the Horatii,” “The Charging Chasseur,” and “The Great Sphinx of Tanis,” to name a few.
“Perhaps the most intriguing inclusion is a close-up shot of Marie-Guillemine Benoist’s ‘Portrait of a Negress’ (1800) near the end of the video,” writes ARTnews. “Possibly showing a servant brought to France from the Antilles by Benoist’s brother-in-law, it was painted in 1800, after the abolition of slavery by France but just as Napoleon was working to reinstate it in the nation’s colonies.”
But possibly the most impressive part of Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s music video as a whole is that there was little-to-no sign it was coming. Even the museum curators kept quiet about the filming at the former royal palace, so fans and magazines, such as Bustle, continue to speculate on the couple’s “stealth planning” and shooting dates.