In the 21st century, Americans are bombarded with an influx of news updates, digital notifications and visual stimuli. In an age where everyone is seeking what Andy Warhol referred to as their “fifteen minutes of fame,” public opinion operates in a swift and unforgiving manor as millions of individual judgements are solidified in a matter of seconds before moving on to the next scrolling headline. Shows such as Black Mirror reference the explicit ways in which our society is dependent upon technology, making it increasingly difficult to differentiate between reality and fiction. This compression of the private and public sphere fundamentally changes the role of celebrity, not only as influencers but as products themselves. My research centers on American celebrity and artist Kanye West who has been in the public eye for over a decade, often at the center of scrutiny and controversy given his direct messaging and his refusal to mince words. Due to Kanye’s strong sense of identity and the way in which the artist’s core purpose has shifted and evolved over time, he has complicated the idea of a single monolithic identity and ‘easy messaging.’ His artistic portfolio reflects this notion, providing a multiplicity of lenses with which one can view the artist. This Independent Study tracks the conscious dematerialization of Kanye’s albums, his body and perhaps even his “brand,” an elusive term in itself, that makes the rapper all the more difficult to pin down and fully understand. Kanye’s decentering of celebrity relies on the artists visual and lyrical aesthetics that reject symbolism and iconography, resulting in a proliferation of abstract forms that serve as the stripped down essence of the artist and his message, connecting Kanye’s identity directly to his body of work.


Kang, Christopher

Second Advisor

Siewert, John


Art and Art History; English


Arts and Humanities

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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