Aria Nancy Rubin Art Pop Culture Mass Consciousness Nancy Rubin sculpture in the middle of City Center. Taken on March 26, 2012 by flickr user ercwttmn

These days, you never know where you may find art.

Take the 2013 VMAs for example (MTV’s Video Music Awards aka Miley Cyrus’ twerking carnival and bad girl debut). There were multiple references to modern and classical works, re-enacted or re-created. Complex Magazine has a great wrap up of highlights.

While many people didn’t realize they were being “cultured” to, they certainly can recognize they were being blatantly marketed to. The cool thing about art in this context is it can often pique the interest of young minds who are just tuning in for their favorite artists or to simply witness this mass pop culture conversation moment.

A more direct example of this type of not-so-subtle art subversion is Jay Z’s latest single, “Picasso Baby.” Jay Z’s lyrics often cause conversation – which, it can be argued, is plain good for the art world, regardless of the manner the artists are referenced. In this song, he directly namedrops many notables ranging from, of course, Picasso to the more contemporary Jeff Koons (who is having quite the moment). Koons’ Tulips is currently on display at the Wynn in Las Vegas, and he is also one of the artists referenced at the VMAs. As a perfect example of art pop culture, he’s truly entering a few new spheres – rap, televised music performances with Lady Gaga, and casinos in the city of sin.

This is notable because art’s affinity in the casino industry has long been struggled with in different contexts and companies. Many have started and closed galleries, while some are now taking a more direct approach. Something Sin City has long been absent of.

City Center is taking a bold approach to contemporary art and installations. The latest installation of MGM has quite the collection of large scale works scattered across its properties. In an effort to invigorate the city’s art scene and cultural stature, MGM CEO Jim Murren decided to make an investment in art.

So where does this leave us? Mass consciousness has the ability to be shaped for enrichment beyond just profit. All of these examples somewhat cleverly and not so cleverly incorporate art for the sake of… Inspiration? Profit? Culture? Conversation?

Art has a curious way of finding itself in our lives. Do you think its significance is underplayed by these references? Or are you not interested in it at all? What else could benefit from mass culture subversion?

We’d love to hear your thoughts on what art you’ve noticed in unexpected places these days. Leave us a comment below.




  1. Jovian

    Great article.

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