The first large-scale UK exhibition devoted to the work of the New York prodigy.
Basquiat shocked with enigmatic paintings focused on subjects as disparate as graffiti, jazz, classicism, his Caribbean heritage and contemporary racial politics. A self-taught artist and former graffitist his rise to fame was meteoritic. The face of underground culture, he performed in the film New York Beat alongside Debbie Harry, collaborated with Andy Warhol, produced murals and installations for hip nightclubs and embarked on a brief romance with Madonna (rumour has it he introduced the fledgling pop star to gallerist Larry Gagosian and foretold her stardom).
Although he is best known for his frenetic canvases, Basquiat also experimented with textiles, music, poetry, photography, film and even drawing in his own blood. In his tragically short life he produced an astounding amount of work that remarkably still remains unrepresented in any UK collection.
The Barbican’s exhibition seeks to affirm his significance as one of the greatest painters of the 20th century, while also exploring his position as a key figure of popular culture during this period. The show includes important paintings, film clips and his lesser-known drawings.
Research for this show was supported by an Art Fund Jonathan Ruffer curatorial grant.