Jean-Michel Basquiat: high-school drop out turned art world prodigy. Young, black, gorgeous and charismatic, he traded in his downton underground scene for uptown gallery cognoscenti. He became a sensation; he most celebrated painter of the ‘80s, until his death at the age of 27.
Next year, at long last, this prolific artist will get his first ever UK retrospective, over at the Barbican. Basquiat: Boom For Real is a big, big deal.
Untitled painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat broke the artist’s world auction record, selling for $57.3 million at Christie’s on May 10. (Photo: Christie's)
Basquiat came of age in in the post-punk underground art scene in Lower Manhattan. New York in the late '70s was was filthy, dangerous and full of subcultures - the most visible of which was the graffiti scene. Under the pseudonym SAMO© (for 'Same Old Sh*t), he daubed enigmatic statements across the city, which criticised the mainstream art scene and consumer society. 'SAMO©… 4 THE SO-CALLED AVANT-GARDE'. The media took notice. Soon he was making drawings in his own blood, collaging baseball cards and postcards, and painting on clothing, architectural fragments and increasingly on enormous canvases. That were improvisatory: covered in stream-of-consciousness text and layer upon layer of paint.
A SAMO© Graffito
A far cry from the minimalism of the day, Basquiat's works were lurid, deranged and executed with childlike verve. 'I don’t listen to what art critics say. I don’t know anybody who needs a critic to find out what art is... I wanted to be a star, not a gallery mascot."
He starred in the film New York Beat with Blondie’s Debbie Harry; Andy Warhol took him under his wing. Yet despite his fame acclaim, the artist has never really got the attention he deserves. Most people have never heard of him. Perhaps this has something to do with the colour of his skin.
In any case, we can't wait for this major retrospective - a long overdue celebration of a true great.
|What||Basquiat, Barbican Centre|
Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS | MAP
17 Sep 17 – 28 Jan 18, Thu–Fri 10am–9pm (bank holiday 12noon–9pm)
|Website||Click here for more information|