Kings, Heroes, and the Streets
The art of Jean-Michel Basquiat
The legend of Jean-Michel Basquiat is as strong as ever. Synonymous with New York in the 1980s, his work represents a seminal period of transition from high and dry modernism to an art of “anything goes,” in which individual expression reigned supreme.
Basquiat first appeared in the late 1970s under the tag name SAMO, spraying caustic comments and fragmented poems on the walls of the city. He appeared as part of a thriving underground scene of visual arts and graffiti, hip hop, post-punk, and DIY filmmaking, which met in a booming art world. As a painter with a strong personal voice, Basquiat soon broke into the established milieu, exhibiting in galleries around the world.
Basquiat’s expressive style was based on raw figures and integrated words and phrases. When asked about his subject matter, he answered “royalty, heroism and the streets”; his work is inspired by a pantheon of luminaries from jazz, boxing, and basketball, with references to arcane history and the politics of street life. In 1983 he started collaborating with the most famous of art stars, Andy Warhol, and in 1985 was on the cover of The New York Times Magazine. At age 27, Basquiat, one of the most successful artists of his time, died of a drug overdose.
This book allows an unprecedented insight into his art, with pristine reproduction of all his most seminal paintings, drawings, and notebook sketches. In large-scale format, the book offers vivid proximity to the artist’s intricate marks and scribbled words, further illuminated by texts from writer and curator Carlo McCormick, a contemporary of Basquiat’s on the New York scene, and curator and art historian Eleanor Nairne. Quotes by the artist and a richly illustrated biography follow up on all the important personal and historical connections.
Text in English, French, and German