"It’s not football, it’s not fashion, it’s not music—it’s something totally different that David and I are enjoying learning about together," says Victoria Beckham of her burgeoning interest in art. It’s a world to which she was introduced by her friend Elton John, after a Julian Schnabel painting at his house in Nice stopped her in her tracks. "I wanted to know more, but also said to Elton, 'God, art is so expensive—how can you justify it?' He replied, 'Yes, it is, but how much joy does a piece you love give you every time you look at it? You can’t put a price on that.'"
From that point, the Beckhams’ collection started growing steadily. On her own walls, she tends to hang works that pack an immediate punch: Yayoi Kusama’s dots, Yoshitomo Nara’s cartoon-like depictions of children, and Nan Goldin’s photographs. "They are particularly provocative, and I like that," she says. Pop art is a favourite movement: if anyone were to paint her portrait, she’d like to have seen what Roy Lichtenstein would have done with the commission.
Instead, she has been immortalised by the American artist Richard Prince, who turns existing shots into artworks. "We have a few of Richard’s, but this one is especially cool because it’s of me as Posh Spice in the Say You’ll Be There video. David was watching it in a hotel room 30 years ago, when he pointed to me on the screen and said to Gary Neville, 'I’m going to marry her.'" Similarly meaningful for the couple is their Tracey Emin neon work, which reads ‘I promise to love you’. "It’s cute and I love the energy," Beckham says with a smile.
However, she has catholic tastes and likes to juxtapose old and new. In 2018, her eponymous brand’s super-slick, minimalist Dover Street store welcomed a community of temporary residents: 16 historic figures sumptuously portrayed in oil paint by Old Masters, ahead of their sale at Sotheby’s. "It’s hard to express how exciting the contrast between a Rembrandt and my contemporary fashion and architecture was," she says. "I respond to art with my instincts. For example, seeing one of Monet’s 'Houses of Parliament' series for the first time was an amazing experience—I thought it was lit somehow, but it was just the paint radiating from the canvas. I felt really emotional." She pauses briefly. "I will also say, I was shocked by how small the Mona Lisa was!"
Beckham also brings the girl power of yore to her approach. "I always champion women, no matter the industry," she says. "Before learning about female Old Masters—Artemisia Gentileschi, Angelica Kauffman—I had no idea they had to lie and say their work was by a male relative."
Her discoveries continue to inform the colour palettes for her fashion designs and beauty ranges; the brand’s A/W 23 clothing collection was partlyinspired by the Brazilian sculptor Solange Pessoa’s installations made from human hair. "A few years ago, I came across an enormous work by her—very strange, and not, aesthetically, the most pleasing thing you’ll ever see—but there was something really interesting about it," Beckham explains. "I liked the idea of combining long acrylic fringing with wearable denim."
And so the former pop star’s art journey continues. "I’m not pretending to be the greatest expert, but I’m really enjoying learning," she says with feeling. "For anyone else daunted by the idea of art—just go into a gallery and have a moment with a piece. Don’t be afraid."
This piece originally appeared in the November 2023 print edition of Harper's Bazaar UK