Thursday, October 19, 2017

Basquiat on the BBC and at the Barbican

Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988) was a precocious and highly original talent - as a poet, artist and social commentator. He lived fast, painted faster, made a lot of money and died young, age 27, of a heroin overdose - just over 30 years ago. In May this year he achieved iconic art star status.

'Basquiat Boom for Real' Barbican
Photo Tristan Fewings | Getty Images | The Estate of Jean Michel Basquiat Artestar
The anniversary of his death has been marked by:
  • programmes on the BBC
  • an exhibition at the Barbican.
More about these below.



Basquiat at the BBC


There are a number of programmes and articles about Basquiat
and articles

"Basquiat - Rage to Riches"

I knew very little about Basquiat before watching the programme the Basquiat - Rags to Riches programme (link above) - but found it enormously interesting and a very good programme / bio about the artist. It's an interesting mix of the people who knew him really well as friends and those who knew him once he became absorbed by the art world - such as Larry Gagosian.
The recent Sotheby's auction of a Jean-Michel Basquiat Skull painting for over a hundred million dollars has catapulted this Brooklyn-born artist into the top tier of the international art market, joining the ranks of Picasso, de Kooning and Francis Bacon. This film tells Jean-Michel's story through exclusive interviews with his two sisters Lisane and Jeanine, who have never before agreed to be interviewed for a TV documentary. With striking candour, Basquiat's art dealers - including Larry Gagosian, Mary Boone and Bruno Bischofberger - as well as his most intimate friends, lovers and fellow artists, expose the cash, the drugs and the pernicious racism which Basquiat confronted on a daily basis. As historical tableaux, visual diaries of defiance or surfaces covered with hidden meanings, Basquiat's art remains the beating heart of this story.

Basquiat at the Barbican: "Basquiat: Boom for Real"

The exhibition at the Barbican opened on 21 September 2017 and it continues until 28 January 2018. I expect it will be very busy over Christmas/New Year! (Note the visitors info below)


'Basquiat Boom for Real' Barbican
Photo Tristan Fewings | Getty Images | The Estate of Jean Michel Basquiat Artestar

Basquiat: Boom for Real is the first large-scale exhibition in the UK of the work of American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960­-1988). 
  • he was untrained - and yet one of the most significant, original and world-renowned painters of the late 20th century
  • he's known as an artist - and yet a lot of his art and reputation relates to his short textual comments in bold capitals
  • he was the educated son of a middle-class Haitian-Puerto Rican family, who set his sights on a career in art
  • he came of age in the late 1970s - working on the streets as a graffiti artist with his adopted tag of SAMO© (Same Old Shit)
  • he exhibited in his first gallery in 1980
  • he had gained international recognition by 1982 - and was painting in a studio
  • he was friends with Andy Warhol
  • he died in 1988 of a heroin overdose - and became known as the art world equivalent of a rock star (even to the extent of dying age 27 and therefore qualifying as a member of the 27 club)
  • in May 2017, Basquiat achieved longevity as an art star. He broke the auction sale record for an American artist when Sotheby's New York sold his painting Untitled (1982) at auction - for $110.5m - to Yusaku Maezawa, the Japanese entrepreneur and contemporary art collector
  • there has been very little exposure of his work in the UK since his death

His vibrant, raw imagery, abounding with fragments of bold capitalised text, offers insights into both his encyclopaedic interests and his experience as a young black artist with no formal training. 
I'm totally fascinated as to why this exhibition by such a famous artist is being held at the Barbican rather than Tate Modern which I would have thought was his natural home - especially given its exhibition of Street Art - graffiti art by international artists - in 2008. What must the Tate have done to ensure they didn't get this exhibition? The possible explanation lies in the amount of music which is being played in association with this exhibition.... Basquiat: Boom for Real also focuses on the artist’s relationship to music, writing, performance, film and television, placing him within the wider cultural context of the time.

'Basquiat Boom for Real' Barbican
Photo Tristan Fewings | Getty Images | The Estate of Jean Michel Basquiat Artestar
The exhibition of 100 works draws on works in both international museums and private collections. Many have never been seen before in the UK. §Paintings, drawings, notebooks and objects are presented alongside rare film, photography, music and archival material, capturing the range and dynamism of Basquiat’s practice over the years.

Visitor information - In order to avoid disappointment, advance booking is essential for this exhibition. Ticket availability can be extremely limited - best availability weekdays. The exhibition is open late Thursday to Saturday until 10pm (last entry 9pm). No bags (including handbags) — a free cloakroom is available adjacent to the exhibition entrance. No photography No food or drink You are welcome to sketch in the exhibition (using pencils only)

Works of Art by Jean-Michael Basquiat

You can see works of art by Jean-Michel Basquiat on Wikiart

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