Kanye West, self-proclaimed “creative genius” and “greatest human artist of all time”, has a secret talent recently revealed: painting and drawing.
West’s cousin’s husband made the revelation during an episode of PBS’ Antiques Roadshow, when he had West’s impressive high school art portfolio appraised – with just four pieces for a staggering estimate of 16,000 $ to $23,000.
The exhibitor, who was only identified as the husband of West’s cousin, revealed that his family came into possession of the artwork after “Kanye’s mother died in 2007”.
He explained: “My husband received them as part of the estate about a year after his death.”
In the exhibit, only four of West’s artworks he created while studying at the Polaris School were displayed and appraised – although antiquities expert Laura Woolley revealed they were part of a “large wallet” he had brought.
Woolley, who called them “really exceptionally well done”, said: “A lot of people probably don’t know [of] how talented he is as an artist outside of his music career. I think these pieces demonstrate an extraordinary ease as an artist, and I chose this grouping because it shows the different mediums he worked with.
The works included two graphite portraits (one of a demonic figure surrounded by chains and a necklace as well as an unfinished woman), a moody gouache painting and finally an intricate scratch-off diptych of a nature scene.
In addition to this, an old flyer from a seventeen-year-old West art show was also included, revealing that he studied art from the age of seven.
West studied at Chicago State University, Nanjing University in the People’s Republic of China, and the Polaris School for Individual Education, where many of the works exhibited came from.
West’s cousin-in-law revealed that West had such a varied upbringing because his late mother was a traveling English college professor, who took him with her.
He explained, “He has a much more holistic view of art and culture. His mother pushed him to do whatever he wanted to do and made sure it was available for him.”
The flyer also mentions that “artist extraordinaire” West will go to study fine art at the American Academy of Art in Chicago with the postscript that he “will also continue to pursue a career as a music producer. “.
Although the pieces were valued in the flyer at $12 for a black-and-white print or $15 for a color print, Woolley estimated a much higher value now, saying the price of celebrity art rests on “the lasting legacy of stardom”.
She said: “Values go up and down with celebrity popularity. And I think, despite the fact that some people might say he’s a controversial figure with his opinions and his career, I don’t think anyone can deny the fact that he has extraordinary talent.
She valued West’s set of four artworks between $16,000 and $23,000 at auction, estimating that the largest graphite drawing could fetch as much as $6,000 to $8,000.
She added: “I think over time I would expect these to continue to appreciate. We now have a well-established market for many musicians and celebrities making art. I think it’s really fantastic to have first plays like this from someone who will become an important cultural figure of our time.
West is far from the first celebrity to display a talent for the art. Actress Lucy Liu has a prolific career as an artist specializing in LGBTQ+ erotic paintings while Sylvester Stallone creates rainbow portraits in his garage.