Beyoncé can break the internet anytime she wants, and yesterday she did, posting a striking photo announcing her pregnancy with twins to Instagram. Shot by LA and New York-based artist Awol Erizku, that image was just part of a larger set released today, in which she poses underwater and references classical artworks like Botticelli's The Birth of Venus.
"I make things that I want to see in the world," Erizku told The Creators Project in a 2015 interview. "I’m deeply interested in color and composition and how things come together. If you look at my studio, I just take found objects and then I repurpose them so they can have a meaning, and they look like hopefully interesting objects to look at, but deep down inside, it’s all from the way I look at the world and how colors speak to me."
His chromatic instinct and attraction to bold floral arrangements mark the photos as Erizku's as much as Beyoncé's. Fans of Erizku's work will notice one of his found objects in the photoshoot: Beyoncé sits atop a red car inflated with flowers, taken from Erizku's 2016 collaboration with Sarah Lineburger, Ask the Dust.
Navigating Beyoncé's website is an experience in and of itself. The browser window features a constantly-changing cast of photos and aesthetics depending on when you reach her site. Every new refresh yields photos from throughout Beyoncé's life, from a picture of her mother's pregnancy to her engagement with Jay-Z to her daughter Blue Ivy kissing her new baby bump.
The photographs are interspersed with words from poet Warsan Shire. The announcement's hashtag-worthy slogan "I Have Three Hearts" heads a few introspective stanzas about pregnancy and motherhood. Erizku's floral arrangement pictures are punctuated by crisp black-and-white portraits and experimental underwater photographs reminiscent of Eric Raeber's series The Underside.
Erizku got his BA at the Cooper Union School of Art, went to grad school at Yale, has hosted screenings at MoMA, and is known for a multidisciplinary approach to photography and painting founded on bright blocks of color and utter empathy for the human condition. He's been harrassed and threatened for his work, including calls from a lawyer after publishing series about sex workers in his birth country of Ethiopia.
The Guinness Book of World Records certifiies that Beyoncé and Erizku's initial photo became the most-liked post on Instagram within eight hours, coolly breezing past Selena Gomez's previous record. It boasts over 8 million likes at the time of posting. Below, check more images from the series.