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Art Is Having a Moment with Millennials (and Brands)

From pop-culture to fashion to their homes, iconic art is trending with Millennials—and the brands that want to appeal to them…

This June, the internet went wild over Beyoncé and Jay Z’s new music video. But the song it was made for, “Apes**t,” was only a part of the buzz. The real excitement over The Carter’s new release was the video itself—which was filmed in the hallowed halls of the Louvre. Watching Bey and Jay perform surrounded by classic art inspired many a think piece, analyzing the symbolism involved in placing themselves amongst historic works of art. But whatever your interpretation, another side effect of the video was a clear message: art is cool.

That video now has almost 120 million views, and we can officially say that classic art is having a moment with Millennials. In fact, the Louvre has embraced the hype, creating a special 90-minute tour based on “Apes**t” for all those fans who want to see the exact works that the icons stood (and danced) next to. In July, LeBron James sported a “Buy Art Not Drugs” tee shirt at an event, which quickly sold out on the artist’s site. It’s not just tee-shirts declaring a love for art that are selling—Millennials are buying actual art as well. According to a U.S. Trust survey, Millennials are the fastest growing segment of art collectors. New startup Ikonick—funded by Justin Bieber’s manager— is focusing on the interest by selling affordable canvas pieces online and planning to open a brick-and-mortar footprint in the next two years. Brands are also getting involved: Iconick has sealed licensing deals with Muhammad Ali’s estate and the NBA, and are eyeing Nike, Disney, Marvel, and Jordan Brand for future “signature series.”

But for those Millennials who can’t afford to buy a major art investment, other brands are tapping into the trend in more accessible ways. Here are four to be inspired by:  

Vans & Van Gogh

Vans is no stranger to collaborations, but their latest feels meant-to-be—and perfectly timed to tap into this trend. Vans teamed up with the Van Gogh Museum (get it guys? Vans, Van Gogh?) to create a collection featuring the beloved artist’s works. The results include Van Gogh’s self-portrait and Sunflowers sneakers, Almond Blossom bomber jackets, Skull tee shirts and more. The director of the museum explained that the collaboration aligned with their mission to make the artworks “accessible to as many people as possible in order to enrich and inspire them.” The collection was revealed on August 3rd and quickly sold out online—with a portion of the proceeds going to support the preservation of Van Gogh’s collection.

Calvin Klein & Andy Warhol

Considering Andy Warhol’s pop-culture fascination, it’s possible he might have approved of his works being featured on Calvin Klein’s most iconic product: underwear. In a capsule collection released this July, the brand featured the artist’s photographs on their classic underwear styles. According to The Cut, the line is intended “to celebrate the human body.” But lest you think this collab is merely an effort to jump on the recent spike in art interest, it’s actually a continuation of Calvin Klein’s continued collaboration with Warhol’s foundation—so you can expect more to come in the future.

Basquiat & MeUndies

MeUndies is featuring famous artists’ aesthetics on their underwear. The subscription-based online retailer created a collection with graffiti artist Keith Haring, which generated buzz from Bustle. This isn’t the first time the digital brand has featured on artist on their underthings. Most recently, License Global reports they’ve made a deal to showcase the work of Jean Michel-Basquiat on everything from bralettes to boxer briefs. However, for brands looking to tap into young consumers’ love of art, be forewarned: not everyone on Twitter thinks immortalizing Basquiat on intimates is a good idea. Just take it from @NoPattern who tweeted, “who is in control of the basquiat estate, yikes!”

Gucci Beauty Instagram

Gucci is posting famous paintings on their new beauty Instagram. The digital gallery features representations of beauty throughout the ages from portraits of women wearing high collars and corsets to Japanese geishas and a Mughal empress. The account even travels all the way through time to Simone Kennedy Doig’s 2018 portrait of a woman applying red lipstick in Untitled (Eva). So far, the account has 33 posts, three of which are just logo tiles (for the aesthetic), and 30.5K followers. The Cut reports that the luxury brand beloved by Millennials & Gen Z plans to post more than just art, though: they’ll be using the Instagram to showcase “new beauty products and launches, fashion shows, and special collaborations.”

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