The 63-year-old Material Girl singer used Instagram to share a variety of photos, including one with photographer Steven Klein, holding a knife to her throat and a note saying her team worked for free on her recent project.
Fans slammed the multimillionaire for allowing unpaid labour, while some were enraged by her braided hairstyle, accusing her of cultural appropriation, and others claimed she was celebrating violence.
Madonna, whose real name is Madonna Louise Ciccone, appears to be frozen in place, standing with her eyes closed and her hands on the V Magazine cover, which received controversy for depicting Madonna replicating Marilyn Monroe’s murder.
For the photos, she wore her hair in braids and a simple black attire, revealing her amazingly clear complexion.
“Proud of my collaboration with @stevenkleinstudio,” she captioned the photo. “For @vmagazine, and knowing that against all odds.”
She added, “And with very little support from non artistic people who kept pushing back and the fact that we did it with almost zero budget we were still able to make ART! Art is not dead if you have the strength to fight for what you believe in !! Thanks to all who did support us and slept on couches and worked long hours and for free all to support madame who is not only here to disturb the peace but to keep Art alive I send you all a BIG kiss.”
The shocking admission that workers had worked for free on a project despite Madonna’s multimillionaire status provoked controversy among fans.
“Worked for free???” wrote one fan. “Why didn’t you Pay them yourself? Are you short on cash or something?”
“Oh god. If you as Madonna have almost zero budget, I don’t know what hope there is for the unsigned artists like us lol?” said another.
“The definition of exploitation = People working for you for free in the name of ‘art’,” one person wrote.
Yet another wrote, “Girl you got the money PAY THE ARTISTS ‘worked long hours for free’….I cannot.”
Many others questioned why the award-winning singer included the knife photo in the selection, with one Instagram user saying, “Madonna PLEASE do not pose with a person holding a knife to your throat – this is NOT a photo op – this is really bad!!!”
“Switch on your brain. All the women suffering abuse and being murdered, and what you post is a knife to your throat. Disgusting message,” one raged.
“I hope Madonna is ok,” said one fan. “She doesn’t seem the same these days. I really don’t see the art in the knife to the throat.”