I hadn’t heard of Basquiat before this highly anticipated exhibition landed in the Barbican Art Gallery. In truth, it was because the photo of Basquiat with his Aaron helmet and the Adidas jumper beneath a checkered suit was plastered on the walls of Ace Hotel’s lobby; a sight I frequently saw and was intrigued by.
The Barbican have crafted their exhibition over two floors; starting upstairs you learn about the beginnings of Basquiat before gliding into more bitesize chunks to learn about the scene, Downtown 81, Beat Bop, Warhol, and then self-portraits. The lower floor examines more of Basquiat’s influences such as Art History, Encyclopedias, his notebooks, the screen, and one of the very few, and intimate, interviews he agreed to. Basquiat soaked up everything he could get his hands on, his eyes to, and his ears against. Although Basquiat chose to delve into the canon of mainstream, this including western art such as Da Vinci, Picasso, Matisse, and Duchamp, he engrossed himself with books such as African Rock Art, and Flash of the Spirit: African and Afro-American Art and Philosophy. Through the use of gold paint, black skull-like faces, Basquiat makes comments on the impact of the tobacco and sugar slave trade in the development of western economy.
Keep an eye out for the Basquiat inspired graffiti on your way there…
There is a lot that you can immerse yourself in and many aspects that you can tune into in this exhibition. My personal favourites include what I termed the “Basquiat Blue” which, amongst many other colours, is this powerful, strong, bright blue turquoise tone that calls for an audience. Additionally, I felt really inspired by Basquiat’s graffiti words (reminding me a bit of East London’s exhibition which I wrote about last year) and his initiative to create collages, mass-produce them, and sell them on the streets outside the Museum of Modern Art. It takes time, ideas, a little money and guts. Plus, the exhibitions situated Basquiat in the real world with its inclusion of his influences and his multi-platform life. If that wasn’t enough the Barbican has been running a series of events, talks, film screenings and more to complement the exhibition with a few left before it closes on the 28th January! (Also, pick up the free gallery guide!)
Before booking, sign-up for Young Barbican and instead of a £12 concession ticket price, you can get in for £5.
Find out more and book in advance for this exhibition here.
Just want a dabble and dip into Basquiat? Check out the events (11th, 18th and 25th) using the link above!
Don’t forget, once you’ve popped along, leave a comment telling us what you enjoyed! Or if you’re planning to go, what are you looking forward to discovering?