Banksy + Degas = Simon Cowell

If someone asked me to guess American Idol judge Simon Cowell’s taste in art, I probably would have named something sensible, marketable, and creative – maybe some work by an abstract expressionist painter like Morris Louis. But my guess would have been way off.

Cowell, who reportedly is a secret art collector, is known to be a fan of the Impressionist painter Degas and the graffiti artist Banksy (yikes – what a combination!). I just read here that for Christmas this year, Cowell received a commissioned work by Banksy – and the painting is a remake of Degas’ The Rehearsal of the Ballet Onstage (c. 1874, shown above). Apparently, in this Bansky commission, Cowell has been painted in the scene as the ballet master.
Gulp. I like Degas, but I really question how this Banksy commission turned out. It sounds rather horrific.

So what kind of critique did Cowell give his Christmas present? According to sources, the judge looked at the painting and immediately called it “hilarious.” What a news flash – I guess Simon Cowell has a sense of humor! And in true Cowell fashion, this is an expensive sense of humor: this “hilarious” painting is estimated to cost $800,000. That’s a lot of money for a joke.

  • heidenkind says:

    Okay, he's a millionaire AND an art collector?? I totally want to marry him now.

  • e says:

    Oh man. Banksy, huh? I am not AT ALL surprised that Simon would like him. Seems just his taste.

    I am, however, surprised to hear he is a secret art collector. It's weird to think that he would be into that. If anything, I'd expect him to collect women (bikini girl from last season, anyone?).

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This blog focuses on making Western art history accessible and interesting to all types of audiences: art historians, students, and anyone else who is curious about art. Alberti’s Window is maintained by Monica Bowen, an art historian and professor.