"Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s “Apeshit” Video Shows Black Bodies in Art — and in Control" by Rikki Byrd

In an 1800 painting titled “Portrait d’une femme noir,” an unknown black woman sits for artist Marie-Guillemine Benoist. (The painting’s name means “Portrait of a Black Woman,” or “Portrait of a Negress.”) 

She is adorned in what appears to be a white sheath; one of her breasts is bare. She has a white scarf wrapped around her head and a small hoop earring hangs from her ear. One hand is gently placed in her lap while the other lays across her torso. She is aware that she is being looked at, and perhaps less aware of what the final image might look like. Nevertheless, she stares right back at the viewer, as if she is just as much aware of your presence as you are hers. 

The portrait is the only selected work that solely features a black subject in Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter’s “Apeshit,” the couple’s latest collaborative visual by director Ricky Saiz, which accompanied the surprise release of their duet album Everything Is Love.

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  “The Coronation of Napoleon ,”  Jacques-Louis David, 1807 / “Apeshit,”    YouTube

“The Coronation of Napoleon,” Jacques-Louis David, 1807 / “Apeshit,” YouTube