The dates for the exhibition Jean-Michel Basquiat: King Pleasure have been announced. Featuring over 200 never before and rarely seen paintings, drawing, ephemera and artifacts, this celebration of Basquiat’s life will open on April 9, 2022 at the NYC Landmark Starrett-Lehigh Building. The exhibition has been extended through October 31, 2022!
Jean-Michel Basquiat: King Pleasure is a deeply personal exhibition created by the Basquiat family, with the exhibition designed by acclaimed architect Sir David Adjaye OBE ~ the architect for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History in Washington, D.C. and the Studio Museum in Harlem to name just a few.
“We wanted to bring his work and personality forward, in a way only his family can, for people to immerse themselves in. We want this to be an experiential and multi-dimensional celebration of Jean-Michel’s life.”…. – Lisane Basquiat
The exhibition’s identity has been created by Abbott Miller of visionary design firm Pentagram. He has previously collaborated with cultural clients including the Guggenheim Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Metropolitan Museum. Rizzoli Electa will release the accompanying book, also titled Jean-Michel Basquiat: King Pleasure©, to coincide with the exhibition.
The exhibition will be divided into seven themes ~ An Introduction (1960) ~ Kings County ~ World Famous ~ Ideal ~ 57 Great Jones Street Studio ~ Art Gallery ~ Place Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Here is a glimpse into each:
1960 – INTRODUCTION– This section of the exhibition introduces audiences to Jean-Michel, his family and his heritage with several self-portraits on display.
KINGS COUNTY– This section provides an overview of Jean-Michel’s childhood in Brooklyn and Puerto Rico. It will include an environmental evocation of Jean-Michel’s childhood home, ephemera and works by Jean-Michel including newsletters from City-as-School, sketchbooks, personal notes and effects, home movies, interviews with family members, early drawings and sculptures.
Above and below, a partial recreation of Basquiat’s childhood home in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn.
WORLD FAMOUS– This section details Jean-Michel’s meteoric early success and includes paintings and other ephemera.
IDEAL – 57 Great Jones Street Studio (August 1983) Studio Recreation– Jean-Michel’s Great Jones Street studio will be recreated and include paintings, drawings, sketches, personal effects, his furniture, bicycle (his main method of transportation since he had trouble catching a cab), and his videotape and book collections.
Above and below, a recreation of the interior of the Great Jones Street Studio.
ART GALLERY– This section will consist of several thematically arranged galleries with approximately 100 paintings and drawings. All works are owned by the Estate and most of them have never been seen before.
One of the thematic galleries, above and below ~ Irony of Negro Police Man
PALLADIUM– In 1985, Jean-Michel created two paintings, Nu-Nile and Untitled, for iconic NYC nightclub Palladium’s VIP area, the Michael Todd Room. The exhibition will recreate this space including video and soundtrack.
Above and below, a recreation of the renowned Palladium, one of New York City’s most prominent nightclubs attended by Basquiat, Andy Warhol, Keith Haring and many more. The Club closed in August, 1997.
PLACE JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT– This gallery will contain oral histories from members of Jean-Michel’s family and a close circle of friends as well as posthumous awards and exhibitions.
About the artist ~ Jean-Michel was born in Brooklyn on December 22, 1960 to Gerard and Matilde Basquiat as one of three first generation children of a Haitian immigrant and Puerto-Rican mother – a legacy of strong, passionate, grounded, pioneers, entrepreneurs, and creative people. The family was focused on nurtured creativity, culture, music, and connection to Brooklyn, where they lived. Prospect Park, the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, the Brooklyn Library, and the Brooklyn Museum were active and consistent sources of inspiration and culture for the Basquat children. Following their parents’ split, the Basquiat children lived in Puerto Rico from 1974-1976 with their father, a further connection to their roots and an experience that also fueled Jean-Michel’s opine of the world and imagination. They returned to Brooklyn in 1976 when their father’s contract ended.
During an admittedly complex relationship with his father, Jean-Michel left home in 1978 to strike out on his own. The two struggled – his father, who came from a strict, traditional Haitian background and feared the unknowns built into a young Black man’s decision to pursue art as a profession and a son who felt compelled to respond to his inner calling to be an artist. Ironically, Gerard left Haiti at 17 to pursue his own dream of becoming an American businessman, which in many ways parallels Jean-Michel’s story.
“Jean-Michel stands at the forefront of a legacy of really strong people who are committed to showing up in the world in a specific way. And that runs through our bloodline. Now our children know what can happen when you live your truth, when you stand up for what’s right for you and exert work ethic, passion & commitment to why you believe you’re here. Partly because of this blueprint, every one of our children lives in authenticity of who they are, in their own different ways,” Lisane says.
A self-taught artist, Jean-Michel was able to navigate both his creative talent and the professional complexities of an industry that he’d had no previous exposure to at a young age, forging relationships with iconic artists like Andy Warhol, gallerists like Annina Nosei, musicians like Madonna, John Lurie, David Byrne, Debbie Harry and Fred Brathwaite (Fab 5 Freddy), plus photographers like Michael Halsband and curators who all helped set the tone for his explosive career. He gained recognition for his visual street poetry, and intrigue swirled around his infamous graffiti tag SAMO, which he shared with Al Diaz. He was resourceful and never let a lack of funds deter him from making art, at one point even taking down someone’s backyard fence to make one of his paintings.
It was important to Jean-Michel not to return home until he “made it.” After one of his early and successful gallery exhibitions, he came back to his father’s house in a limousine, having created a business out of his art and proving to himself and his family that he was successful; a proud moment for him and his family. His sisters remember when they started seeing his name on TV shows, in music, on the AP art history exam – and having AT&T representatives ask if they’re related. Yet even as a thriving artist, as a young Black man, taxis still would not pick him up; a common occurrence for a Black man at that time. He was also an anomaly in a majority white art world, with few artists of color in the higher echelons of the gallery system. Thethemes that Jean-Michel dealt with in his work, such as police brutality and racism as evidenced by the death of Michael Stewart September 15, 1983, and subsequently the racial attack in Howard Beach in 1986, had a profound impact on Jean-Michel, and continue to resonate today.
Andy Warhol would become a close friend and mentor of sorts in 1982, advising Jean-Michel on his career while Jean-Michel convinced Andy to start painting again. The two collaborated on works that demonstrated their artistic synergy. It was a relationship that lasted until Andy’s death in 1987. Andy also leased Jean-Michel’s Great Jones Street studio to him. The studio was always a little chaotic, a cacophony of music and television playing while Jean-Michel worked. Often in the middle of a visit, he would get up and start painting, leaving footprints on some of his works as he walked to others across the room. Jeanine, Matilde and Lisane marveled at the world Jean-Michel created. “We really want people to have a chance to see his creativity, get into his process and leave inspired,” Lisane said of showcasing these practices in the exhibition.
Jean-Michel had much early success, including solo shows in New York and Los Angeles in 1982, as well as being the youngest of 176 artists exhibited at Documenta 7 in Kassel, Germany. He made the cover of the New York Times Magazine section in 1985. He was a pivotal figure in bringing Uptown and Downtown NYC counterculture together. As an active participant in both NYC’s hip hop and post-punk communities, his work itself is a bridge between these worlds, incorporating elements of the storytelling and iconography of hip hop along with the fearless experimentation and DIY ethos of post-punk. This union of the city’s hip hop and punk movements ushered in a golden era of innovation and boundary-defying art that continues to inspire youth culture across the world. Jean-Michel was also a champion of the early NYC graffiti writers painting on trains, most of them teenagers, and offered guidance when they began to get attention from the established art world. He was also interested in avant-garde fashion, often dressing in Issey Miyake and Comme des Garçons – he was photographed for Issey Miyake in 1983 and walked in the Comme des Garçons fashion show in 1987.
Music was a large part of his childhood and like his father, Jean-Michel always liked a good party. He made music with his band Gray and appeared in Blondie’s “Rapture” video, along with creating “Beat-Bop” with Rammellzee. When he wasn’t in the studio, Jean-Michel would visit favorite Downtown nightclubs. In the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, he frequented the Mudd Club with Keith Haring and Danceteria with Madonna. In the mid-’80s, Jean-Michel could be found DJing at Eric Goode’s infamous nightclub, Area. Jean-Michel even created two spectacular paintings for the Palladium’s VIP area, The Michael Todd Room.
Above and below, from the thematic room ‘Those Who Dress Better Can Receive Christ’ in which he reminds us to pay attention and dig a bit deeper to question what has been normalized and accepted within society.
Jean-Michel’s family was devastated by his passing on August 12, 1988. It was a shock and an excruciating loss of a brother and a son. “The story got cut short during that time in a person’s life where they start to investigate who they are and resolve childhood and adolescent issues. Jean-Michel didn’t have a chance to do that,” Lisane said. Jean-Michel’s family were completely unprepared for his passing and for the public’s view into the processing of their grief. After Gerard and Matilde Basquiat’s passing, Lisane and Jeanine became co-administrators of Jean-Michel’s estate. The sisters, alongside Nora, continue to work towards ensuring their brother’s work and legacy is preserved and also accessible to younger and more diverse audiences. In visual arts, hip hop and beyond, Jean-Michel continues to be an influential force in art and popular culture, inspiring generations of artists and musicians to come.
“It was important to have a show that all people want to experience. We want them to see Jean-Michel in themselves, an artist that looks like them. We want it to be completely accessible for those who have felt intimidated in the past by going to a museum,” Jeanine explains. Lisane adds: “I want people to walk away with inspiration, hope & confidence in themselves to do the same thing with whatever it is for them – whether it’s painting, music or being an accountant. To live their lives with that same commitment, dedication and grit.”
Global media- company VICE joined the family as a participating sponsor for the exhibition. In addition, VICE will host an Instagram Live conversation with Jean-Michel’s sisters, Lisane Basquiat and Jeanine Heriveaux on December 15, 2022 at 5:30 PM ET on their Instagram @VICE. Jeanine and Lisane will be joining from @BasquiatKingPleasure and @JeanMichelBasquiatEstate . The conversation will give insight into the exhibition, how Jeanine and Lisane put it together, and why it was important for them to create a space where they honor Jean-Michel and celebrate his work with everyone. VICE’s inclusive and global platform is an ideal place to share this conversation. They join Spotify and Phillips as the initial participating sponsor of Jean-Michel Basquiat: King Pleasure©.
VICE Media Group is a global multi-platform media company. Launched in 1994, VICE has offices across 25 countries across the globe with a focus on five key businesses: VICE.com, an award-winning international network of digital content; VICE STUDIOS, a feature film and television production studio; VICE TV, an Emmy-winning international television network; a Peabody award-winning NEWS division with the most Emmy-awarded nightly news broadcast; and VIRTUE, a global, full-service creative agency. VICE Media Group’s portfolio includes Refinery29, the leading global media and entertainment company focused on women; PULSE Films, a London-based next-generation production studio with outposts in Los Angeles, New York, Paris and Berlin; and i-D, a global digital and bimonthly magazine defining fashion and contemporary culture and design.
Did you know that Japan’s (space tourist) Yusaku Maezawa is putting one of his Basquiat artworks on the auction block in May, 2022? This particular piece is expected to sell for $70 million.
Looking back at Basquiat’s Defacement: The Untold Story at The Guggenheim in 2019.
Zeitgeist: The Art Scene of Teenage Basquiat at Howl! Happening.
Al Diaz/SAMO at Same Old Gallery, 57 Great Jones Street.
The Brooklyn Museum of Art exhibited Maezawa, the $110.5 million Basquiat!
Looking forward to #SamoLives, a Jean-Michel Basquiat biopic staring Kevin Harrison will begin shooting in the Fall of 2022.