Jimmy Iovine—the storied music mogul and ARTnews Top 200 collector—speaks well of art and its potency in a reflective and future-facing new interview with the New York Times. His status as an art collector is noted near the top, with mention of his having been guided by fellow music-world tycoon David Geffen, and a notable work from his holdings gets held out for special attention: Our Flag, a 2017 commission by Los Angeles–based artist Ed Ruscha. Of the politically pointed work, which depicts a tattered flag flayed into pieces and drifting off in the wind, Iovine says, “If you looked at the painting and thought it represented the disarray of democracy you would be right. Any flag that flies for 250 years deserves to be a little soiled but nothing this extreme.”
He also suggests that visual artists have more to offer in terms of political statements than musicians these days: “This painting says more than any song that I’ve heard in the last 10 years. Why is that?”
While the bulk of the interview focuses on the future prospects for a music industry in flux, talk turns back to art after Iovine says, “One of the reasons I left music was because there wasn’t a kind of music that I related to.” More to his liking now, he says, are statements of the kind proffered by Ruscha, Mark Bradford, Kara Walker, and Jenny Holzer—whom Iovine compares to musical figureheads of the past like Marvin Gaye, Public Enemy, Bob Dylan, and Rage Against the Machine.
Of inclinations toward protest and defiance that he misses from yesteryear, Iovine says, “These days I am getting that from the art world and not the music world.”