When it comes to collecting art, like a virgin Madonna is not. The pop icon began collecting in the early ‘80s when she lived in New York as a struggling dancer, hanging out with the likes of Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, and her then-boyfriend Jean-Michel Basquiat. (Warhol famously wrote in his diary, referring to Madonna’s wedding to Sean Penn, as “just the most exciting weekend of my life.”)
Madonna has been known to dabble in the art world, having presented the Turner Prize to Martin Creed in 2001, and attending MoMA launch parties. On Madonna’s 58th birthday last month, she announced on Twitter that’d she'll be bringing two lucky strangers with her to Art Basel in Miami in December, as a fundraising campaign for her charity Raising Malawi—giving rise to speculation about whether the pop star might be involved with the fair as a performer.
Though her collection now has an estimated value of at least $100 million, Madonna says her collection isn’t just investment, nor is it solely for décor. “I get strength from my art—all the paintings I own are powerful.” Though Madonna has been rightfully credited for creating a style and an image all her own, her album artwork, music videos, concert concepts, and even her own image is often inspired by the visual artists she collects.
'Express yourself' like Madonna does and collect artwork by artists championed by the iconic sex symbol herself.
It's not terribly surprising that Man Ray's sassy, moody, black-and-white nudes are coveted by Madonna, who reportedly owns at least three works by the American artist. Ray was a significant contributor to Dada and Surrealist art, becoming best known for his 'rayographs' made by arranging objects like wire coils and thumb tacks directly on top of photosensitive paper and exposing it to light.
Madonna is such a big fan of Cindy Sherman's work, that the pop icon sponsered an entire exhibition of the artist's Untitled Film Stills series at the MoMA in 1997. Sherman was just 23 years old in 1977 when she created the series, which portrayed clichéd roles women perform in film.
Then in 1992, Madonna released her coffee table book, Sex. The concept for the book was largely inspired by Cindy Sherman. Madonna told Aperture Magazine in 1999 “I love taking on different personas and becoming and transforming and the whole chameleon thing with a twist on Cindy Sherman—I’m a big fan of hers, by the way.”
Madonna has a soft spot for the modern masters. In 2000, she bought Picasso's Buste de Femme á la Frange for almost $5 million from Christies.
Madonna is rumored to own at least one artwork by Damien Hirst, known for his imagery associated with life and death, and belief and value systems.
Marilyn Minter’s video Green Pink Caviar was used as a backdrop to Madonna’s 2008 "Sweet and Sticky" tour. The painter and photographer explores themes of glamour, sex, and femininity—a perfect fit for the Queen of Pop.
Madonna has Salvador Dalí's Le Coeur Voilé hung on the wall of her Los Angeles living room, framed by a geometric book case with shelves that criss-cross in right angles like the lines in a Mondrian painting.
Madonna has a life-size portrait of a flaxen-haired boy in a Hitler Youth uniform photographed by Collier Schorr hanging in one of her residences. "People don't know what to think when they come here and see this photograph. I'll let them be... confused."
It's been reported that Madonna has invited Tracey Emin for tea (how genteel!) and considers the controversial British artist a dear friend. Emin's autobiographical oeuvre acts as the artist's confessional, illustrating the artist's personal and sometimes turbulent childhood experiences and sexual history.
The Material Girl became friends with Keith Haring when they both we just starting out in New York, crashing on his couch when she couldn't make rent. The imaginative street artist gifted her at least one painting, before he died of AIDS in 1990. To celebrate his life that year, Madonna made the first New York date of her Blond Ambition World Tour a benefit concert for AIDS charaties.
Madonna and painter Jean-Michel Basquiat dated in the early '80s, until it ended in heart-break. “When I broke up with him he made me give [the paintings he gave me] back to him. And then he painted over them black.” Okay, so maybe Basquiat isn't in Madge's current collection, but we're including him anyway.