There are artists whose signature is so omnipresent in the culture that we tend to feel as if we know and understand their work fully. This is true for Keith Haring and Andy Warhol, whose imagery can be found everywhere – from key chains and posters to museums and television shows.
Their contemporary Jean-Michel Basquiat's influence is comparable, yet it's also more mysterious and subtle. His expressive work is both accessible and hermetic, and apart from the tragic facts of his short life and the much-publicized astronomical amounts his canvases get auctioned for, it seems there's much we don't truly know about him as a person.
It's a paradox that becomes more apparent in the exhibition Jean-Michel Basquiat: King Pleasure © at the landmark Starret-Lehigh building in Chelsea. His family has gathered and curated an incredible amount of work by him, from childhood drawings to rarely seen works on canvas as well as a famed refrigerator door. Yet, there's a sense that despite all the imagery and messages he hurled into the world, there was a storm going on inside him that was never really expressed, let alone understood.
The best way to experience this personal exhibition, no doubt, is by walking through its David Adjaye-designed spaces without the humdrum of too many visitors. Far from a white cube approach, which tends to divorce the work from its context, Adjaye Associates envelops Basquiat's work and the artifacts of his life in a warm scenography of raw materials and soft lighting.
Approximately 80 of our members and their guests walked the exhibition rooms, before its doors opened to the public on Saturday April 30. This private access ensured that we were able to take in the exhibition with our fullest attention, from the intimate family videos to the material details of Basquiat's eventful life.
Tickets are going fast for this unique perspective on the late artist's life and work. It's a definite must-see. For more information on the exclusive art world access we offer, inquire about a Cultivist membership today.