Published by Guggenheim Museum. Text by Chaédria LaBouvier, Nancy Spector, J. Faith Almiron, Greg Tate. Contributions by Luc Sante, Carlo McCormick, Jeffrey Deitch, Kenny Scharf, Fred Braithwaite, Michelle Shocked, et al.
Police brutality, racism, graffiti and the art world of the early-1980s Lower East Side converge in one painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat
Published by Hatje Cantz. Text by Dieter Buchhart, Glenn O'Brien, Jean-Louis Prat, Susanne Reichling.
The first African-American artist to attain art superstardom, Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988) created a huge oeuvre of drawings and paintings (Julian Schnabel recalls him once accidentally leaving a portfolio of about 2,000 drawings on a subway car) in the space of just eight years. Through his street roots in graffiti, Basquiat helped to establish new possibilities for figurative and expressionistic painting, breaking the white male stranglehold of Conceptual and Minimal art, and foreshadowing, among other tendencies, Germany's Junge Wilde movement. It was not only Basquiat's art but also the details of his biography that made his name legendary--his early years as "Samo" (his graffiti artist moniker), his friendships with Andy Warhol, Keith Haring and Madonna and his tragically early death from a heroin overdose. This superbly produced retrospective publication assesses Basquiat's luminous career with commentary by, among others, Glenn O'Brien, and 160 color reproductions of the work.
Jean-Michel Basquiat was born in Brooklyn, New York, to a Puerto Rican mother and a Haitian father--an ethnic mix that meant young Jean-Michel was fluent in French, Spanish and English by the age of 11. In 1977, at the age of 17, Basquiat took up graffiti, inscribing the landscape of downtown Manhattan with his signature "Samo." In 1980 he was included in the landmark group exhibition The Times Square Show; the following year, at the age of 21, Basquiat became the youngest artist ever to be invited to Documenta. By 1982, Basquiat had befriended Andy Warhol, later collaborating with him; Basquiat was much affected by Warhol's death in 1987. He died of a heroin overdose on August 22, 1988, at the age of 27.
Controversial cult artist, enfant terrible of the art world, friend of Haring and Warhol, and both idol and a victim of the art scene of the '80s-Jean-Michel Basquiat was a legend in his own lifetime. This catalog, published in conjunction with the major retrospective at the Lugano Museum of Modern Art, provides an excellent overview of Basquiat's life and work. As an African-American painter, Basquiat has made a significant impact on the history of contemporary art. From his origins as a street graffiti artist, he became one of the most influential artists of his time: in 2005 his work is being celebrated in seperate exhibitions in the US and Europe. As emblems of the contemporary world, his explosive, colorful, and apparently naéf canvases have an unparalleled force. The brief but intense artistic career of this celebrated proponent of the downtown New York art scene of the 1980s is covered through some fifty paintings and twenty works on paper drawn from prestigious private collections and museums. This book offers a new intense dialogue with the more modern expressions of twentieth-century art.
Rudy Chiappini is Director of the Lugano Modern Art Museum.