Mad About Paris, Much more than a guide
When Jean-Michel Basquiat burst onto the art scene in 1981, his paintings of anguished figures were hailed by some critics as works of a genius. He came out of nowhere. Who was this angry young man? Just a son of Haitian and Puerto Rican immigrants. Where did he come from? From the New York underground scene.
Basquiat was a graffiti sprayer when he decided, at the age of 19, to become a world known artist. Strangely, it worked. During the eight years of his short career he created an extensive oeuvre of about 1000 paintings and 2000 drawings. He was not only the first black artist making a highlevel breakthrough, he also was the youngest Documenta participant ever. Owing to his work and his temperament, he was one of the most fascinating and controversial personalities of the art world. But he simply was Basquiat: Somebody full of rage and power, hungry and in a hurry.
He probably felt himself that there was little time left for him and realized his paintings and drawings in high speed and excessively before he died of a overdose at the ages of only 27.
Born in 1960, the artist would have celebrated his 50th birthday this year. And to mark this anniversary, the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris is devoting a large retrospective to Basquiat displaying more than 100 paintings, objects and work on paper. It’s the first Basquiat exhibition ever on this scale in France.
What will you discover? A colourful and powerful work, populated by comic like figures, skeletal silhouettes, curious everyday objects and poetical slogans. Paintings telling stories our just outcries, the testimony of someone who was obsessed by death, racism and his proper destiny.
In one of his last paintings you see definitions from a slang dictionary accompanied several times by “man dies” and a stylized crow’s foot. Was he lucid to that point? The painting was done just after having been to Paris where he had an exhibition at the Yvon Lambert gallery. A few months later, in August 1988, friends found him dead in his apartment in the East Village. Basquiat had painted his own obituaries. That’s what makes them strong art.
Basquiat’s paintings are sold today for millions and millions of dollars. The record price for one of his paintings was made some years ago, when an untitled work from him was sold for more than 14 million Dollars.Basquiat Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris 11, Avenue du Président Wilson 75016 Paris Tel. +33(0)1 53 67 40 00 Métro: Alma-Marceau From Tuesday to Sunday 10 h – 18 h, Thursdays until 22 h