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Watch Jay Z's 'Picasso Baby' performance-art piece

Watch Jay Z's 'Picasso Baby' performance-art piece
The cover for "Magna Carta... Holy Grail" by Jay Z, who turned "Picasso Baby," a song on the album, into a piece of performance art last month. (Universal Music)

Was it really a performance-art event, or just a glorified plug for his new album?

Probably some of both. In July, hip-hop artist Jay Z took over New York's Pace Gallery for several hours to stage a marathon version of "Picasso Baby," a single from his album "Magna Carta... Holy Grail," which was released last month.

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The singer billed the gallery event as a performance-art piece, and the crowd included artist Marina Abramovic, director Judd Apatow and actors Alan Cumming, Rosie Perez and Taraji P. Henson.

Mark Romanek, a music-video veteran, fashioned a short documentary of the event, which ran on HBO last week. For art scene-sters who don't subscribe to the premium cable channel, Jay Z has uploaded the short movie to YouTube. (The documentary contains adult language.)

"Piccaso Baby" riffs on the performer's appetite for collecting art, including his desire for works by Jeff Koons, Mark Rothko and others.

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