Jean-Michel Basquiat was born in 1960 in New York City, where he died in 1988. Born to a Haitian father and a Puerto-Rican mother, Basquiat left his family home in Brooklyn, New York at the age of fifteen and took to the streets. A voracious autodidact, he quickly became a denizen of the explosive and decadent New York underground scene—a noise musician who loved jazz, and a street poet who scrawled his sophisticated aphorisms in Magic Marker across the walls of downtown Manhattan, copyrighting them under the name SAMO. In 1981, he killed off this alter ego and began painting and drawing, first on salvaged materials then later on canvas and paper, and making bricolage with materials scavenged from the urban environment. From the outset he worked compulsively; his passion for words and music, his intense yet fluid energy, and the heterogeneous materials that he employed so freely imbued his work with urgency and excitement. He sold his first painting in 1981, and by 1982, spurred by the Neo-Expressionist art boom, his work was in great demand. In 1985, he was featured on the cover of The New York Times Magazine in connection with an article on the newly exuberant international art market. In that photograph, Basquiat is a vision of cool, sprawled in a chair in an elegant three-piece suit and tie, with bunched dreadlocks and bare feet, in front of a large, bold painting—a supernova in the making.
Charismatic image aside, Basquiat was a prodigious young talent, fusing drawing and painting with history and poetry to produce an unprecedented artistic language and content that bridged cultures and enunciated alternative histories. Combining materials and techniques with uninhibited yet knowing and precise intent, his paintings maintain a powerful tension between opposing aesthetic forces—expression and knowledge, control and spontaneity, savagery and wit, urbanity and primitivism—while providing acerbic commentary on the harsh realities of race, culture, and society.
Basquiat is represented in several prominent museum collections all over the world. Major solo exhibitions include “Jean-Michel Basquiat: Paintings 1981–1984,” Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh (1984; traveled to the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; and the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, through 1985); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1992; traveled to the Menil Collection, Houston; the Des Moines Art Center, Iowa; and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Art, Alabama, through 1994); “Basquiat,” Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York (2005; traveled to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, through 2006); Fondation Beyeler, Basel, Switzerland (2010; traveled to Musée d’art Moderne de la Ville de Paris); and “Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks,” Brooklyn Museum, New York (2015). Basquiat starred in “Downtown 81,” a verité movie that was written by Glenn O’Brien, shot by Edo Bertoglio, and produced by Maripol in 1981, but not released until 2000.
Visions of the Self: Rembrandt and Now
In partnership with English Heritage
April 12–May 18, 2019
Grosvenor Hill, London
Extended through November 19, 2016
From Modigliani to Currin
September 20–November 19, 2016
980 Madison Avenue, New York
Extended through September 17, 2016
A group exhibition of text-based works
June 1–September 17, 2016
The Shape of Time
In Collaboration with Gisèle Croës
November 26, 2015–January 9, 2016
Works from 1929 to 2015
June 11–August 1, 2015
Britannia Street, London
May 21–August 10, 2013
February 7–April 6, 2013
West 24th Street, New York
Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol
June 19–August 11, 2012
Davies Street, London
Visions of the Self: Jenny Saville on Rembrandt
Jenny Saville reveals the process behind her new self-portrait, painted in response to Rembrandt’s masterpiece Self-Portrait with Two Circles.
Gagosian Quarterly Spring 2019
The Spring 2019 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring Red Pot with Lute Player #2 by Jonas Wood on its cover.
Jean-Michel in Black and White
Fred Hoffman looks back on the creation of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Tuxedo (1983), examining the work’s significance in relation to identity and the hip-hop culture of the 1980s.
Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Untitled (L.A. Painting) (1982) was a game changer. Text by Derek Blasberg.
Visions of the Self: Rembrandt and Now
In partnership with English Heritage
Thursday, April 25, 2019, 6pm
Gagosian, Grosvenor Hill, London
Gagosian director and art historian Richard Calvocoressi will lead a tour of the exhibition Visions of the Self: Rembrandt and Now at Gagosian, Grosvenor Hill, London. Calvocoressi will take a look at postwar and contemporary masters of self-representation, anchoring the conversation to an important Rembrandt masterpiece included in the exhibition, Self-Portrait with Two Circles (c. 1665). The event has reached capacity. To join the wait list, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rembrandt van Rijn, Self-Portrait with Two Circles, c. 1665, English Heritage, The Iveagh Bequest (Kenwood, London). Photo: Historic England Photo Library
Art Basel Miami Beach
December 6–9, 2018, booth D7
Miami Beach Convention Center
Gagosian is pleased to participate in Art Basel Miami Beach 2018 with modern and contemporary artworks by Georg Baselitz, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Joe Bradley, Glenn Brown, John Chamberlain, Dan Colen, John Currin, Urs Fischer, Katharina Grosse, Mark Grotjahn, Andreas Gursky, Keith Haring, Damien Hirst, Howard Hodgkin, Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, Vera Lutter, Man Ray, Peter Marino, Takashi Murakami, Pablo Picasso, Richard Prince, Sterling Ruby, Ed Ruscha, Jenny Saville, Rudolf Stingel, Tatiana Trouvé, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, Tom Wesselmann, and Jonas Wood, among others.
Jeff Koons, Ode to Love, 2010–17 © Jeff Koons
Art Basel Hong Kong
March 29–31, 2018, booth 1C18
Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre
Gagosian is pleased to participate in Art Basel Hong Kong. To view highlights from the booth in advance of the fair visit www.artsy.com. Our presentation will include works by Georg Baselitz, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Joe Bradley, Cecily Brown, Glenn Brown, Alexander Calder, John Currin, Willem de Kooning, Edmund De Waal, Jean Dubuffet, Urs Fischer, Lucio Fontana, Walton Ford, Katharina Grosse, Mark Grotjahn, Andreas Gursky, Damien Hirst, Jia Aili, Anish Kapoor, Yves Klein, Karen Kneffel, Jeff Koons, Harmony Korine, Roy Lichtenstein, Takashi Murakami, Takashi Murakami & Virgil Abloh, Albert Oehlen, Nam June Paik, Francis Picabia, Pablo Picasso, Sterling Ruby, Ed Ruscha, Jenny Saville, Richard Serra, Rudolf Stingel, Mark Tansey, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, Jonas Wood, Christopher Wool, and Zeng Fanzhi. Tickets are available at www.artbasel.com.
Zeng Fanzhi, 8, 2018 © Zeng Fanzhi 2018
March 6–May 15, 2019
Brant Foundation Art Study Center, New York
To celebrate the inauguration of its new space in New York City, the Brant Foundation presents a solo exhibition of works by Jean-Michel Basquiat. This retrospective, organized in collaboration with the Fondation Louis Vuitton, brings together Basquiat’s most important masterworks from the Brant Collection as well as those from international museums and private collections.
Jean-Michel Basquiat, In Italian, 1983 © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat/Licensed by Artestar, New York. Photo: courtesy the Brant Foundation, Greenwich, Connecticut
Jean-Michel Basquiat – Egon Schiele
Through January 21, 2019 (Basquiat) and January 14, 2019 (Schiele)
Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris
Separate exhibitions of two painters—Egon Schiele (1890–1918) and Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960–1988)—linked by their fascinating intensity and brief, meteoric lives are on view at the Fondation Louis Vuitton: together, the exhibitions present a total of 250 works selected from the two artists’ exceptional oeuvres. Schiele and Basquiat are major figures in twentieth-century art, each having created a body of work with rare impact and permanency in a very short period. The exhibitions underline the specific context behind the artists’ work, which was done during two very different periods in history.
Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled, 1981 © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat/Licensed by Artestar, New York. Photo: © Douglas M. Parker Studio
Sea of Desire
June 2–November 4, 2018
Fondation Carmignac, Porquerolles, France
The phrase “Sea of Desire” on a large-scale painting by Ed Ruscha welcomes visitors to this exhibition, which channels a spirit of rebellion and change. Sea of Desire confronts the viewer with compelling artworks that imply revolution, freedom, and a quest for beauty. Work by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, Ed Ruscha, and Andy Warhol is included.
Jean-Michel Basquiat, Fallen Angel, 1981, Fondation Carmignac, Paris © The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat/ADAGP, Paris 2018
Boom for Real
February 16–May 27, 2018
Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt
Drawing from international museums and private collections, this exhibition brings together more than one hundred works, many never before seen in Germany, including a partial reconstruction of the first body of work that Basquiat exhibited at Diego Cortez’s watershed group show New York/New Wave at PS1 in New York in 1981. This exhibition has traveled from the Barbican Center in London.
Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled, 1982, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam © VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, 2018 and the Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Licensed by Artestar, New York. Photo: Studio Tromp, Rotterdam