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
rue de Ponthieu, Paris
Private Pages Made Public
Megan N. Liberty explores artists’ engagement with notebooks and diaries, thinking through the various meanings that arise when these private ledgers become public.
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.
Performance and Talk
The Writing’s on the Wall
Monday, September 11, 2023, 6pm
Grand LA, Los Angeles
This event has been postponed. The new date will be announced shortly.
Join the estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat for an immersive experience blending performance and conversation, organized in conjunction with the exhibition Jean-Michel Basquiat: King Pleasure©, on view at the Grand LA through October 15. The evening will begin at 6pm with a viewing of the exhibition, followed by a live performance at 7pm by blues poet, musician, and organizer aja monet, and concluding with a discussion between monet and the artist’s sisters, Lisane Basquiat and Jeanine Heriveaux, moderated by singer Mashonda Tifrere. Delving into the profound impact of language and poetry, the audience is invited to discover the driving forces behind monet’s literary prowess and activism while decoding hidden narratives within Basquiat’s artwork.
Jean-Michel Basquiat, 1982. Photo: James Van Der Zee, courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Jean-Michel and His LA Experience
With Lisane Basquiat, Tamra Davis, Larry Gagosian, Jeanine Heriveaux, and Fred Hoffman
Wednesday, August 9, 2023, 7:30pm
Grand LA, Los Angeles
Larry Gagosian will discuss his experiences with Jean-Michel Basquiat in Los Angeles in the early 1980s with Tamra Davis, Fred Hoffman, and Basquiat’s sisters Lisane Basquiat and Jeanine Heriveaux in a panel conversation organized in conjunction with the exhibition Jean-Michel Basquiat: King Pleasure© at the Grand LA. All speakers had a meaningful relationship with the artist between 1982 and 1984. Gagosian presented two solo exhibitions by the artist at his gallery and allowed Basquiat to stay frequently at his house in Venice Beach. Hoffmann found a studio space for Basquiat in Venice and created a suite of prints with him. Davis drove the artist, who never learned to drive, around Los Angeles and filmed him for what would become her acclaimed documentary The Radiant Child (2010).
Larry Gagosian and Jean-Michel Basquiat, New York, 1983
West Bund Art & Design 2021
November 12–14, 2021, booth A102
West Bund Art Center, Shanghai
Gagosian is pleased to participate in the eighth edition of West Bund Art & Design. The gallery will present works by Balthus, Georg Baselitz, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Glenn Brown, Helen Frankenthaler, Katharina Grosse, Mark Grotjahn, Damien Hirst, Thomas Houseago, Tetsuya Ishida, Alex Israel, Takashi Murakami, Albert Oehlen, Nam June Paik, Sterling Ruby, Ed Ruscha, Rudolf Stingel, Spencer Sweeney, Zao Wou-Ki, and Zeng Fanzhi, among others.
To receive a pdf with detailed information on the works, please contact the gallery at email@example.com.
Tetsuya Ishida, Untitled (Planting Trees), 2000 © Estate of Tetsuya Ishida
Through January 1, 2024
Grand LA, Los Angeles
Organized and curated by the family of Jean-Michel Basquiat, this exhibition of more than two hundred never-before-seen and rarely shown paintings, drawings, and artifacts tells Basquiat’s story from an intimate perspective, intertwining his artistic endeavors with his personal life, influences, and the times in which he lived. Immersive environments showcase Basquiat’s contributions to the history of art and his explorations of multifaceted cultural phenomena—including music, pop culture, and the Black experience—providing insight into his creative life and his singular voice. This exhibition has traveled from the Starrett-Lehigh Building, New York.
Installation view, Jean-Michel Basquiat: King Pleasure©, Grand LA, Los Angeles, March 31–October 15, 2023. Artwork © The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York
El eco de Picasso
Through March 31, 2024
Museo Picasso Málaga, Spain
Organized as part of Picasso Celebration 1973–2023, a series of international exhibitions and events commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of Pablo Picasso’s death, The Echo of Picasso focuses on his influence on twentieth-century art. The exhibition places Picasso’s practice in dialogue with work by more than fifty artists, including Francis Bacon, Georg Baselitz, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Willem de Kooning, Thomas Houseago, Ewa Juszkiewicz, Richard Prince, Nathaniel Mary Quinn, Cy Twombly, Tom Wesselmann, and Franz West.
Richard Prince, Untitled (Picasso), 2011, Fundación Almine y Bernard Ruiz-Picasso, Madrid © Richard Prince. Photo: Pablo Asenjo
The Inner Island
April 28–November 4, 2023
Fondation Carmignac, Porquerolles, France
This exhibition, which features more than eighty works by fifty artists, presents visitors with new, unknown worlds floating outside familiar geographies and temporalities. The artists included break away from reality, bringing to life fictional, mental, and abstract islands. Work by Harold Ancart, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Alexander Calder, Helen Frankenthaler, Simon Hantaï, Roy Lichtenstein, Albert Oehlen, and Christopher Wool is included.
Helen Frankenthaler, Overture, 1992 © 2023 Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Inc./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Basquiat × Warhol
À Quatre Mains
April 5–August 28, 2023
Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris
From 1984 to 1985, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol produced around 160 canvases together, “four-handed.” This exhibition, whose subtitle translates to With Four Hands, brings together more than three hundred works and documents, including eighty jointly signed canvases as well as individual works by each artist. Also included are works by fellow members of the 1980s New York art scene.
Installation view, Basquiat × Warhol: À Quatre Mains, Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris, April 5–August 28, 2023. Artwork © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat Licensed by Artestar, New York, 2023 and © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc./Licensed by ADAGP, Paris. Photo: Marc Domage, courtesy Fondation Louis Vuitton