If this is Drake's art collection, what does it say about him?
Drake gave his Instagram fans a video tour of his condo, so we asked an art consultant to share his take
His old James Turrell fixation aside, there's not much on the record when it comes to Drake's taste in art. Earlier this week, though, the rapper gave the world a video tour of his downtown Toronto condo, sharing a few Instagram stories of his Leon's Furniture showroom in the sky. (This beige bachelor pad is temporary, to be fair; he's staying there while "Drizzy Manor," his Bridle Path mansion, is completed.) And while the video suggests the place is still very much coming together, Drake already has some art on the walls. In case you missed it, here's the footage.
CBC Arts ID'd a few of the items on display, and for a guy who never went to college, his collection has some major dorm room vibes — albeit at a higher price point than your average poster sale. We reached out to a local art consultant, Devan Patel, for a more expert first impression. In addition to being the director and owner of Project Gallery and Studios, Patel runs Art Works Consulting. That company, in addition to managing some of Toronto's emerging artists — Ness Lee, Camille Jodoin-Eng, Callen Schaub (and a few other names you might have seen on CBC Arts) — also helps people and brands build and manage their art collections. And, because you shouldn't throw stones at people who live in glass condos, he'd like to mention that selections from his own personal art collection are currently on view at Toronto's Broadview Hotel — "open for curatorial judgment," Drake's included.
My hope is that Drake actually does have a much bigger and better collection than this.- Devan Patel, Art Works Consulting
So, presuming Drake's art collection didn't just come with the place, here's Patel's first impression of the superstar's picks. "It's pretty pop art-focused, so it seems like his tastes are relatively mainstream," he told us by email. "My hope is that Drake actually does have a much bigger and better collection than this, and that he just has his 'condo art collection' on display while his mansion is being built."
And while his digs have a great view of Toronto's biggest landmark, he is, surprisingly, not repping "The 6" on his walls. The complete absence of Canadian or Toronto artists, says Patel, is unfortunate — but he could suggest dozens of Canadian artists Drake might like, if he ever wants to expand his collection: Alex McLeod, Rajni Perera, Nep Sidhu, Tau Lewis, Talwst, SoTeeOh. And as for that last one: "I actually think Drake might've even reposted this image by the artist before (without credit)."
More advice later, though. Let's run through that collection...
Damien Hirst. "For the Love of God"
Because really, who doesn't own a human skull studded with thousands of diamonds? Patel says this was the least surprising artwork in Drake's collection. "I anticipated seeing one after watching the first part of the video. This is a print with diamond dust that exists in so many sizes and editions; it is really popular amongst novice collectors. Obviously many seasoned collectors have the piece as well, but when it's significantly featured it is kind of telling."
Patrick Martinez. "Less is More (Less Drake, More Tupac)"
This one didn't come with the condo. Drake's talked about buying this neon piece by L.A. artist Patrick Martinez in the past, and according to a Complexcover story from back in 2011, he didn't have the best sense of humour about the whole thing when he first saw it. "I felt like ripping that shit down," he told the magazine at the time. After a cool down, he wound up buying the piece and hanging it in his Miami home studio. His explanation? "That's my name up there. I'm representative of this generation, and this guy loved Pac enough to make this piece, and that's fucking amazing, man. Because you know what? I hope some day someone will make that piece for me, and it'll be like, 'Less Whatever, More Drake.'"
Mark Drew. "Self-Portrait (Eminem/Jay-Z)"
Good grief! Could it be a goofy dig at Jay-Z? Drake's made fun of Jay-Z's interest in contemporary art before. Remember this gem from a 2014 Rolling Stone interview? "It's like Hov can't drop bars these days without at least four art references. [...] I think the whole rap/art world thing is getting kind of corny." Australian artist Mark Drew created an entire series of these rap/Peanuts mash-ups (Deez Nuts), and in this one, Charlie Brown's quoting a lyric from Jay-Z's "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)"
All celebrity gossip aside, Patel says he's a fan of this particular selection. "I was pleasantly surprised by the Martinez and Drew pieces as they are quite fun and tasteful additions that obviously are relevant to Drake."
John Dominis. "Steven McQueen aims a pistol in his living room, California, 1963."
Every bro owns it, but most of them don't earn Drake-sized salaries. The photo was captured during a Life Magazine shoot at McQueen's Palm Springs home. Atlas Gallery prices signed prints between $5,000-10,000 USD.
Gerald Laing. "Gethsemane"
Gary Hume. "Michael"
They're tributes to a pair of departed pop icons, Amy Winehouse and Michael Jackson. Says Patel: "The part of the collection we see is music-centric, which is cool, but I can't totally tell if this is actually Drake's art collection or some high-end staged art in his temporary condo — which maybe says something in and of itself?"
Andy Warhol. "Rats and Star (F. & S. IIIB.21)" and printing proofs for "Love You Live"
Writing generally about Drake's collection, Patel has this to say: "Damien Hirst and Andy Warhol are great artists, but in this context, the collection comes across pretty amateur."
It's a stretch, but to give Drake the benefit of the doubt there's maybe — just maybe — a Toronto reference buried in his choice of Warhols. The Rolling Stones recorded portions of Love You Live at the city's storied El Mocambo, after all.
So what does it all say about Drake?
"The collection does show an obvious appreciation and basic knowledge of art, which is great, but I think Drake could definitely benefit from visiting some galleries or working with an art consultant," says Patel — who is, as it happens, an art consultant.
It doesn't say too much other than that he has good taste in music and likes generic pop/celebrity art.- Devan Patel, Art Works Consulting
"The beauty of collecting is really connecting and living with artwork and expressing something unique about yourself through your acquisitions of different pieces. I think from what we see of (presumably) Drake's collection, it doesn't say too much other than that he has good taste in music and likes generic pop/celebrity art."
"Ultimately I hope that we have just seen a glimpse of Drake's collection, that he has a much more dynamic and diverse collection than we saw, but mostly that he is enjoying the experience and reward of art collecting. Art offers the ability to see differently, instead of just collecting a bunch of objects. These can be access points to new experiences on an ongoing basis — much like a song can transport us somewhere but also change with time, setting, context and, most of all, perspective."