If you’ve spent any time in the art world, you know that the gallery life is full of the good, the bad and the truly, truly ugly—like, Balenciaga x Crocs level ugly. To help you celebrate the transcendent moments when you can’t believe you somehow conned your way into using your Art History degree to earn a living—and get through the less-than-perfect days when it feels like the entire Met Museum is caving in around you—we’ve put together a little playlist for your every mood and occasion. Enjoy!
Jay-Z – Picasso Baby
Fav lyric: “I just wanna Picasso in my casa, no, my castle”
Listen when: You just made your first six-figure sale, you’ve got money to blow and you’re already daydreaming about the speech you’ll give when you donate your unmatched art collection to the public (by starting a foundation in your name, of course) after a long and illustrious life of rubbing shoulders with the great modern masters’ grandchildren. Does anyone have Diana Picasso’s number? Just kidding, I already have her on speed dial.
The Carters – Apeshit
Fav lyric: “I can’t believe we made it / This is what we’re thankful for”
Listen when: You finally snagged that promotion. Pop some Veuve with your girlfriends and soak in the moment—all those late nights, blisters and panic attacks are finally paying off! You earned it, girl.
Azealia Banks – Anna Wintour
Fav lyric: “Diamonds and dreams come true for girls like me”
Listen when: When your ice queen boss throws another project at you when she fully knows that you’re already drowning in work, and does it with all the snooty nonchalance of an eighteenth-century duchess tossing some dirty laundry at the housemaid. Just remember: despite her flawless Chanel exterior, her marriage is probably falling apart, she hasn’t slept in four days and the only things keeping her going are inertia, pent-up rage and Adderall prescribed to her daughter. She may have the career of your dreams, but at least you still have a soul (that you will probably one day trade for the career of your dreams).
Little Joy – How To Hang A Warhol
Fav lyric: “Mama someday you’ll be so proud of me / You’ll see me hanging in a New York gallery”
Listen when: You overhear the New York Mag critic calling your painting “decorative art” at the opening of your first solo show.
Bobby McFerrin – Don’t Worry Be Happy
Fav lyric: “In every life we have some trouble / When you worry you make it double / Don’t worry, be happy”
Listen when: You haven’t made a sale in two months and your boss starts dropping hints that if you don’t start schmoozing some collectors hard, let’s just say your espresso machine privileges will be cut off… or worse.
HAIM – Falling
Fav lyric: “Don’t stop, no, I’ll never give up / And I’ll never look back, just hold your head up / And if it gets rough, it’s time to get rough”
Listen when: Your top gallery cancels their fair attendance just two weeks before the opening day, sending you into a mini hell of anxiety as you scramble to find a replacement. In the wise words of HAIM, it’s when you find yourself in free-fall that it’s time to kick those survival instincts into high gear and push through it!
LCD Soundsystem – New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down
Fav lyric: “Like a rat in a cage / Pulling minimum wage”
Listen when: It’s 7:30am, your eyes are burning from subway sweat, a stranger’s elbow is digging into your ribs and you’re vowing to start seriously hunting for jobs in Santa Fe or Nice.
SZA – 20 Something
Fav lyric: “Prayin’ the 20 somethings don’t kill me”
Listen when: You’re young, broke and remember how when you were little, you thought that by 25 you’d be a real adult, know how to do your taxes, know how to cook something other than cereal and soup out of a can, and probably be married and have fifteen kids. Then you remember that that was before you sold your soul to the art world and never looked back—and you wouldn’t have it any other way.
Grimes – Artangels
Fav lyric: “I don’t need your medicine / Gonna dance all night”
Listen when: It’s the last week of art fair season, you’ve been living off shrimp cocktails and Vitamin C packets for what feels like eternity, your heels are bleeding from lugging around canvases all day in four-inch Manolos you can’t afford, you’re one cocktail party from completely losing your voice but you just got invited to the Moschino afterparty—and rumor has it, Cardi B might make an appearance (not to mention all your biggest clients). Slap on a Band-Aid and some lip liner because it’s time to boogie!
SNAP! – The Power
Fav lyric: “I’ve got the power,” obviously… also, “Radical mind, day and night all the time / 7:14, wise, divine / Maniac brainiac, winnin’ the game”
Listen when: You have exactly three minutes and 48 seconds before the big opening and need to pump this shit up.
M.I.A. – Paper Planes
Fav lyric: “I fly like paper, get high like planes / If you catch me at the border I got visas in my name”
Listen when: Anytime during art fair season, really. Sometimes jet lag and dry skin is the price to pay to get that paper… M.I.A knows.
George Harrison – All Things Must Pass
Fav lyric: “It’s not always going to be this gray”
Listen when: It’s January in Berlin, you’ve had a cold for months, your cat is sick and on top of it all, a major sale falls through. Take a deep breath, make yourself a nice cup of tea (your mom would be proud) and remember that the bright side of rock bottom is that things can only get better. At least you’re doing what you love, and how many people can truly say that?
For the heart:
Brandy & Monica – The Boy is Mine
Fav lyric: “I’m sorry that you / Seem to be confused / He belongs to me / The boy is mine”
Listen when: you run into the new art bro you’ve been seeing at the hot new cocktail bar… with the other gallerina from your gallery. At this point, you have two options: chin up, brush it off and delete his contact, or, if he’s really worth fighting for, sharpen your claws for a little lunchtime showdown.
Lady Gaga – ARTPOP
Fav lyric: “Free my mind, ARTPOP / You make my heart stop”
Listen when: You catch yourself catching feels at the gallery opening afterparty. The lyrics of this song are definitely cryptic and confusing, but then again, isn’t love?
Beach Boys – Wouldn’t It Be Nice
Fav lyric: “And wouldn’t it be nice to live together / In the kind of world where we belong”
Listen when: You just want to snuggle with your SO and you remember that they’re an ocean away and probably will be for the next few years, at least, making you question whether all the sacrifices you made climb to the top of the art world are really worth it. Don’t worry, absence only makes the heart grow fonder, so if it’s meant to be, you’ll be living on the beach in Bali, managing your thriving gallery remotely in no time.
For the soul:
Debussy – Clair de Lune
Listen when: It’s been another long day of the grind, but you get home with enough time to cook yourself a nice dinner, take a long, hot shower and maybe even crack open a book before bedtime. Even gallerinas, possibly the most career-driven and type A of all humans, need to remember to show a little self-love! Otherwise, what’s the point?
Solange – Cranes in the Sky
Fav lyric: “I ran my credit card bill up / Thought a new dress would make it better / I tried to work it away / But that just made me even sadder”
Listen when: You’re feeing generally run-down but can’t quite pin down what’s bothering you. It’s not just too much work and not enough sleep—something else is off. In this soulful ballad, Solange reminds us that running from our troubles or shoving them down won’t make them go away. If this sounds pretty grim and you’re thinking, lol, watch me, Solange has a better message for you: sometimes growth is painful and you just don’t “wanna feel those metal clouds,” but by being brave and facing change you can become a better gallerina—and a better human.
Photos via YouTube, itunes, Circulation Magazine, Substream Magazine, cdandlp, David Torcivia, Vinyl + Cocktails, thevinyldistrict, discogs, Fluff Magazine