Rihanna's new photography book positions her as a work of art
Not to be outdone by Taylor Swift and her limited-edition Lover CDs, which came with .mp3 files divulging the pop star’s wishes and dreams, Rihanna just announced her coffee table book, Rihanna, a hefty “visual autobiography” available for purchase at rihannathebook.com.
The sumptuous tome is a collaboration with art book publisher Phaidon, and it’s filled with “intimate photographs of her life as an artist, performer, designer, and entrepreneur.” They show the star and her friends making music, touring the world, disrupting fashion, visiting Barbados — you know, doing celebrity stuff. Most of the photos have never been published.
Rihanna comes in four editions: the regular large-format hardcover with 504 pages, 1,050 color images, 11 special inserts, and a custom-dyed hot pink cloth spine costs $150. For just $25 more, fans can get the limited-run Fenty x Phaidon edition, which comes with a cheekily-named bookstand. “This Sh*t Is Heavy” was designed by the Haas brothers, a pair of twin artists known for their naughty, whimsical sculptures.
For serious collectors, Rihanna and the Haas brothers also autographed 1,000 oversized “luxury supreme” and “ultra luxury supreme” editions. The cheaper model, priced at $5,500, comes with a massive 18-carat gold tabletop bookstand called “Drippy + The Brain.” The book basically is its own coffee table. The most expensive edition of Rihanna, of which there were just ten, is sold out. It came with a custom pedestal dubbed “Stoner” made from a hunk of solid Portuguese marble, and we aren’t privy to how much it cost.
Rihanna’s superstardom has outshone many of her peers. She’s been elevated beyond pop singer to fashion disruptor, influencer, and entrepreneur. She considers herself an artiste of many trades — as her book announcement on Twitter said, Rihanna marks Rihanna’s “first piece of art in a new industry.”
In a lot of ways, Rihanna’s the epitome of a Warhol superstar. Her celebrity has fused with her art so inextricably that her life itself is the performance. And through documenting that glamorous existence, Phaidon has turned Rihanna into a collectible work of art. (Insert galaxy brain meme here.)
But Rihanna isn’t the first mega-famous influencer to chronicle their story on the printed page. Kim Kardashian released her coffee table photobook Selfish in 2015 through the art bookseller Rizzoli. Rather than a rejection of digital platforms, however, their literary endeavors prove these women are savvy capitalists. They recognize that fans will shell out for a piece of their celebrity, even $5,500 worth.