Jean-Michel BASQUIAT • AWK
As part of Art With Kanga: Paris expedition, we hit up the Jean Michel basquiat exhibition at the spectacular Fondation Louis Vuitton, an art museum and cultural centre supported by the LVMH Group which is also a non profit entity as part of the LVMH's promotion of art and culture.
The space allocated to the Basquiat exhibition was the largest so far that Fondation Louis Vuitton had ever devoted to a monograph show.
Read on to learn more about JMB and the exhibition at the impeccably designed Fondation Louis Vuitton.
At the beginning of the 1980's, Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988) took the art world by storm. Powerful and complex in their intellectual approach, his works immediately captivated New York and Europe followed by the rest of the world. As radical in his life as in his practice, Basquiat left school in 1978 before his high school graduation. He made the streets of New York's lower East Side his first studio, covering walls with poetic inscriptions signed SAMO©.
In less than a decade, he created an intense pictorial, graphic and graphic œuvre - some one thousand paintings and over two thousand drawings - marked by unprecedented and ever growing success.
A brilliant draftsman, his inimitable line mixes the rhythms of his immediate surroundings with his vitality and subversive nature In painting, collage and drawing. He used images and words as weapons against pressing social and economic issues. He thus sought to give physical, political and symbolic visibility to the black body, placing it in confrontation with relentless racism, violence, exploitation and consumerism.
A painter who heralded todays digital copy-paste culture (created during the birth of sampling) Basquiat incorporated elements taken from his environment and vast cultural references. In his work, the most diverse sources and realms of knowledge coexist from jazz to early hip-hop, the Bible to voodoo, comics to classical literature, Cassius Clay to anatomy, African diaspora culture to Leonardo de Vinci and Beethoven to Charlie Parker. Among the first global art figures, he anticipated out post-internet era and its incredibly fast exchanges of images and networks.
Presented on the Foundation Louis Vuitton's four levels, this exhibition brings together more than one hundred and twenty works. It follows a chronological path, from 1980 to 1988, punctuated by unexpected encounters, thematic approaches and major groupings.
On the pool level (gallery 1), the exhibition began with Basquiat's three iconic Heads from 1981, 1982 and 1983. It is subsequently organised into different bodies of work: the Street (gallery 2), Heroes & Warriors and Music (galleries 4 & 5), large-format works (gallery 4), the Griots, the collaborations with Andy Warhol (gallery 9) and his final master-pieces (gallery 10). The exhibition ended with the striking, Riding with Death, which showed in Paris for the first time.
Jean-Michel BASQUIAT • Quick FACTS
• Born on December 22, 1960 in Brooklyn, New York.
• Basquiat and his mother often visited the Brooklyn Museum, the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1965.
• In 1968, he was hit by a car while playing basketball in the street and broke his arm, suffering various injuries which led to his spleen being removed.
• During his stay in hospital for his injuries his mother gifted him with a copy of Gray's Anatomy. This proved to make a lasting impression and influenced his later work with anatomical drawings and prints.
• Basquiat met Al Diaz, a graffiti artist while at City-As School, they later collaborated under the pseudonym SAMO©.
• In 1979, Basquiat started selling hand-painted postcards and T-shirts, sometimes in collaboration with Jennifer Stein (later Vonholstein) in order to earn money.
• In 1908, Basquiat showed his work to the public for the first time in the Times Square Show, which was a group exhibition held in a vacant building in Times Square.
• That same year, he was selected by Glenn O'Brien to play the lead role in New York Beat movie (finally released in 2000 as Downtown 81). The film is loosely based on Basquiat and the downtown art scene surrounding him.
• Basquiat travelled to Europe for the first time in 1981 to for his first solo show at Galleria d'Arte Emilio Mazzoli, Modena, Italy. under the name SAMO©.
• Following his trip to Europe, he had his first solo show in the US in 1982 at the Annina Nosei Gallery.
• In 1985, Basquiat was featured on the cover of The New York Times Magazine to accompany Cathleen McGuigan's article "New Art, New Money."
• In 1985, Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat team up. Paintings at the tony Shafrazi Gallery shows sixty collaborative works.
• In 1986, Basquiat travelled to Africa for the first time and exhibited in Abidjan, Co^te d'Ivoire.
• In 1988, Basquiat has the last exhibition in his lifetime at the Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Salzburg entitled Jean-Michel Basquiat: Paintings, Drawings.. in June/July.
• Basquit died on Friday August 12th 1988 at the age of 27. His work would live on and stand the test of time..
*Chronology derived notably from the “1992 chronology” by Franklin Sirmans.