Lute Player, oil on canvas, 1595
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio

The baroque lute player in modern outfit appears in the legendary clip by R.E.M. after just 30 seconds and the film is full of cross-references to the ouevre and paintings of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. But this remains not the only citation from art history.

Loving you (Hommage to Michael Jackson),
popart by Pierre & Gilles, 2017

The clip for R.E.M.’s “Losing my Religion” is a perfectly constructed collage of various artistic styles from past and present. The video draws a wide arc with multiple connections to Caravaggio, Dutch paintings from the 17th century, art of the Communist October Revolution and postmodern creations by Pierre & Gilles.

Losing my Religion (1991) video by R.E.M.

Nearly 30 years ago, R.E.M. released “Out of Time”, which eventually sold over four million copies in the United States and transformed longtime college radio darlings into a mainstream concern. It was the album’s first single “Losing My Religion” that definitively turned the group into artistic and commercial leaders of the burgeoning alternative rock movement. The headline “Losing my religion” has been wrongly understood as an indication that the protagonist of the text is losing faith. In fact, however, front man Michael Stipe has taken up a forgotten phrase from the southern United States, which just means “to lose your temper.”

May 1st is All-Russian Subotnik
Poster by Dimitri Moor, 1920

The music by R.E.M. (1980-2011) is played till today, but sometimes by the wrong person. The following statement by R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe was in response to Donald Trump using one of the group’s songs at a Washington, D.C. rally in September 2015:

Go fuck yourselves, the lot of you — you sad, attention-grabbing, power-hungry little men. Do not use our music or my voice for your moronic charade of a campaign.”

The Calling of St. Matthew, oil on canvas, 1599-1600
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio