New Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibition was curated by his family : NPR

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A 1983 photo of visual artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, who was 23 at the time.

Courtesy of the Lee Jaffe / Basquiat family


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Courtesy of the Lee Jaffe / Basquiat family


A 1983 photo of visual artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, who was 23 at the time.

Courtesy of the Lee Jaffe / Basquiat family

A recent exhibition in New York City celebrates the fiery, beloved artwork of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. It contains 200 paintings, drawings and artifacts that are rarely seen. They were exhibited by his sisters – giving an intimate and family look to the artist’s life and career.

The “Jean-Michel Basquiat: King Pleasure” exhibition incorporates a room that recreates a particular place from his life. Like the VIP room of a Palladium nightclub, it’s studded with photos of young artists enjoying high life with fellow celebrities and two giant panels drawn by Basquiat for the club.

One of the panels created by Basquiat for the Palladium Nightclub with Shutters in Manhattan, it is currently being installed in the “King Pleasure” exhibition.

Courtesy of the Basquiat family


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Courtesy of the Basquiat family


One of the panels created by Basquiat for the Palladium Nightclub with Shutters in Manhattan, it is currently being installed in the “King Pleasure” exhibition.

Courtesy of the Basquiat family

The Lower East Side in the early 1980s was a fun mix of visual artists and musicians of all kinds. Basquiat had his own experimental band, Gray, which he founded with filmmaker Michael Holman. Another Gray member was actor and director Vincent Gallo. One of Basquiat’s friends and early buyers was Blondie singer Debbie Harry. She in turn cast him as a DJ in the video for Blondie’s song “Rapture.” He appears when she begins to rap about each other’s best friend, the artist Fab Five Freddy.


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Another space in “King Pleasure” It’s a reproduction of Basquiat’s studio on Great Jones Street, in a space rented from friend and collaborator Andy Warhol. His paintings and art books are scattered all over the floor in the room. The television shows some clips of his favorite movie, and the music of one of his heroes, Miles Davis, plays overhead. In one corner, one of Basquiat’s trench coats is hung. This is a strong reminder of the missing artist who died of heroin overdose at the age of 27 in 1988.

Basquiat’s studio at 57 Great Jones Street in Manhattan is recreated at the “King Pleasure” exhibition.

Courtesy of the Basquiat family


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Courtesy of the Basquiat family


Basquiat’s studio at 57 Great Jones Street in Manhattan is recreated at the “King Pleasure” exhibition.

Courtesy of the Basquiat family

These recreations are just one way this is not a typical art exhibition. “King Pleasure” was curated by Basquiat’s two sisters, Lisan Basquiat and Jean-Michel Basquiat. They oversee his brother’s mansion in an exhibition space designed by renowned architect David Adjaye.

Rizan says the immersive show provides their perspective on Jean-Michel Basquiat. “What we can do is provide context,” she says. Background of growing up and starting his journey “

Jean-Michel Basquiat’s sisters Jean-Michel Basquiat (L) and Lisan Basquiat. The two are now overseeing the property of their brother.

Courtesy of the Miranda Pentorino / Basquiat family


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Courtesy of the Miranda Pentorino / Basquiat family


Jean-Michel Basquiat’s sisters Jean-Michel Basquiat (L) and Lisan Basquiat. The two are now overseeing the property of their brother.

Courtesy of the Miranda Pentorino / Basquiat family

In addition to paintings and drawings, the show contains many memories of their family life. But the main attraction is still his art. It’s a quick and reliable hand that he also showed as a teenager. Overflowing colors. An arrogant commentary on race and hierarchy. A smart and sometimes ironic phrase he rendered in text on canvas. Centuries of artistic and historical references packed next to skulls, anatomical charts, and cartoon-like cars, and ideas resonated with each other like the bebop music he loved. His anointing to a person of great black culture as a king. He sometimes literally crowned them in his work, says his sister Jenine.

In one of the corridors of the “Jean-Michel Basquiat: King Pleasure” exhibition, Basquiat’s work and portraits of artist Andy Warhol’s longtime friends and colleagues are on display.

Courtesy of the Basquiat family


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Courtesy of the Basquiat family


In one of the corridors of the “Jean-Michel Basquiat: King Pleasure” exhibition, Basquiat’s work and portraits of artist Andy Warhol’s longtime friends and colleagues are on display.

Courtesy of the Basquiat family

“It was very important for him to have a positive portrayal of blacks,” says Jenine. “I think that was the main reason he not only crowned himself, but also those heroes.” Jesse Owens, Joe Louis, and one of his particular idols, Saxo. A hero like the phonist Charlie Parker.

Writer and Basquiat specialist Cedria Labvier states that “King Pleasure” is an opportunity for the general public to see many works that cannot be seen otherwise. “I thought it was just a great exhibition,” she says. “When talking about Basquiat, 90% of his work is in his personal collection and most of them are in Europe.”

Basquiat’s 1983 painting Jailbird..

Courtesy of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s property


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Courtesy of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s property


Basquiat’s 1983 painting Jailbird..

Courtesy of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s property

In 2019, La Bouvier curated a Basquiat show at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. She is the first black woman to hold an exhibition in New York. (La Bouvier later condemned the leadership of the Museum of Racism, after which Nancy Specter, Artistic Director and Chief Curator of Guggenheim, “pursued the efforts of other curators and completed his dissertation” at the facility for over 30 years. For “I left.)

LaBouvier says he wants more opportunities for scholars to work on Basquiat’s work and his heritage, even if he becomes a reference point for pop culture. She states that the artist’s work was often snapped by individual collectors of the 1980s enthusiastic art market shortly after it was completed. “How else are you going to see and access those works?” She asks. “But there is also this imbalance. If there is not much academic or academic research, our understanding of the artist is undermined.”

1982 portrait of Basquiat by photographer James van der See.

James van der See / Metropolitan Museum of Art


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James van der See / Metropolitan Museum of Art


1982 portrait of Basquiat by photographer James van der See.

James van der See / Metropolitan Museum of Art

What “King Pleasure” does not do is evoke the most annoying element of Basquiat’s biography. This includes his heavy drug use, his benevolent personality, and charges to his friends and interviewers that he was physically abused by his parents, father Gerald, 1998 in Phoebe Hoban. As stated in his biography, his mother, Matilde, Basquiat: Quick Killing of Art..

Moreover, as a very young black man descended from Haiti and Puerto Rico, Basquiat became a superstar in the almost white high-art world, which often makes him stranger and despise, even if the market value of his work soars. I did. His sisters say the exhibition celebrates how much he has accomplished in such a short amount of time.

“That’s the story that Jenine and I wanted to tell. It’s this really complicated human story,” says Rizan.

“He was very purposeful and very determined,” added Jenine. “He said,’I’ll be famous someday.’ And boy, did he make it happen? He decided.”

Tickets for “Jean-Michel Basquiat: King Pleasure” in New York are currently on sale until early September.

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