At least in surrealist paintings a link can be seen to some music videos in the use both make of the free association of ideas and images. This section will look at the role paintings play in music videos.
Let’s start by asking the question “How many paintings does it take to make a music video?” Over 1,250 is one answer provided by this motion picture video by Boris Seewald:
Source: You Tube by Ralf Hildenbeutel
For further information see
Tamara de Lempicka (1898—1980)
She was a Polish-born Art Deco painter and one of the first women artists to also be a multimedia star. Madonna admires and collects her work, featuring it in the music videos Open Your Heart (1987) and Vogue (1990). In addition, Madonna used de Lempicka’s paintings on the sets of two of her world tours, Who’s That Girl (1987) and Blond Ambition (1990).
Open Your Heart
The very opening sweeping crane shot shot is of a gigantic de Lempika Andromeda, breasts lit up by equally large light bulbs astride the exterior of an Old World peep-show, below which to the left and right are two La Bella Raphaelas. Inside the club itself Madonna can be seen dancing on a stage in front of four peep booths consisting of male portraits by de Lempicka made of wood against green backgrounds:
Source: You Tube by THE QUEEN ♫!♫ ! ♫
This black-and-white video is set in an Art Deco 1920s/30s environment and the opening shot is of three de Lempikas on easels: Andromeda (again so Open Your Heart is also deliberately referenced), Femme a Guitar and Nana de Herrera.
Source: You Tube by Madonna
For visual ‘echoes’ of further de Lempika paintings see https://phdavies.co.uk/2011/05/31/madonna-and-tamara/
Who’s That Girl (1987 Live in Tokyo)
At 2:07 and 2:12 Andromeda can be seen like in the Open Your Heart video then at 2:23 and 2:26—2:31 Blue Woman with a Guitar.
Source: You Tube by Spencer Rahal
Blond Ambition (1990 French Riviera)
The show was separated into five different sections the fourth of which Art Deco (1:03:00—1:26:10) was inspired by 1930s Hollywood films and contains the songs “Material Girl,” “Cherish,” “Into the Groove” and finally “Vogue.” The Art Deco set design is a quotation of de Lempicka’s Metropolis-inflected New York, ca. 1929, also a possible source of inspiration for the overall feel of the 1989 Express Yourself video, and during the performance of “Vogue” exactly the same three de Lempicka paintings as in the video for the song are faded in:
Source: You Tube by Stevie D
New York, ca. 1929 can be found at
while the following 2004 documentary describing de Lempicka as “the first ‘Material Girl’” contains numerous of her paintings:
Source: You Tube by Claude Varieras
René Magritte (1896—1967)
While it is surprising that the painter didn’t make more of the medium of film, the medium of film certainly made a lot out of him. First of all, here is a René Magritte home movie:
Source: You Tube by Ladiszka3
Secondly, Magritte was predestined to inspire music videos as in Fleetwood Mac’s “Hold Me”, directed by Steve Barron in 1982 featuring all sorts of typical Magritte images from bowler hats reflected in shards of glass and mise en abîmes to a veritable ‘Magritte Room’ (1:36 and 3:22) as well as the painter at his most Daliesque, for example the musical instruments in the desert, particularly the guitars melting away in the sun like the soft pocket watches (apparently inspired by the sight of a wheel of Camembert cheese!) of The Persistence of Memory from 1931:
Source: You Tube by StevieNicks
Thirdly, there’s this from the Japanese artist and director Kota Yamaji where he directly quotes Magritte as a source of inspiration: