Vincent Desiderio, the artist who inspired Kanye West's controversial music video endeavour for 'Famous', has spoken out about how the rapper reached out to him during production to get his thoughts on the project which was heavily based on a piece of art of his called 'Sleep'.

Kanye WestKanye West's 'Famous' was inspired by Vincent Desiderio's 'Sleep'

Desiderio is an American realist painter who's been launching art projects since he graduated art school in the 70s. Much of his art features evocative images of people, often compromised by something; be it illness, death, sadness or sex. 'Sleep' in particular is an 8-foot by 24-foot painting that Desiderio completed in 2008, which features a group of anonymous naked people sleeping together - just like Kanye West's video, notwithstanding the anonymity.

Desiderio flew over from New York to Los Angeles to meet Kanye West after he received a phone call from one of his associates who explained how much the rapper was a fan of his work. Little did he know of the extent of his influence on the 'Famous' singer, until he unveiled the video to him. 'I was absolutely floored and honored, and I almost felt like crying', Desiderio told NPR in an interview. 'There are experiences like that in the arts where somebody actually gets what you're doing.'

While many people slammed West's video for the sexual allusions, Desiderio de-bunked this idea of his own painting portraying an orgy. 'It represents a communal sleep - which in a larger sense might represent the sleep of our culture, the sleep of reason', he explained. 

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Though the artist insists the video is 'not a reproduction of [his] painting', he was still struck by the similarities in thought. 'One of the big similarities is that, as I was doing my painting, I wasn't feeling a tremendous amount of empathy for the people; I actually thought of them as slumbering idiots who really need to wake up to what's going on, to a different world', he confessed, but added that he later 'began falling in love with the characters'. 

'Everything in the habit of my intuitions would steer me to seeing [Kanye's video] as a vicious attack on them', he continued. 'And yet, there was something in the execution of the piece that kept all of those thoughts at bay. I felt a spark of empathy - not really for them, it was for the world.'

If you're wondering whether or not Desiderio got paid for his then-unbeknownst contribution, he didn't. However, he insists that even if it was offered, he wouldn't take money for it. 'If art is always created in the service of the almighty dollar, we're really in trouble', he said. Plus, he reveals that he even spoke to West about a possible collaboration in the future, which will no doubt help up the bank balance.