Jean-Michel Basquiat—artist and art world provocateur—took New York City by storm with his powerful and complex works that relentlessly engaged with charged sociopolitical issues, including race, police brutality, and structural inequity. In this important volume, devoted to an exhibition at the Brant Foundation in their newly opened Manhattan outpost featuring the artist’s key works, Basquiat’s art returns to its East Village roots, contextualized for the first time in decades in the very neighborhood that served as one of his greatest inspirations.
Dieter Buchhart, noted Basquiat scholar and curator, brings together one hundred of the artist’s most important works, focusing on the best examples of the many subjects that informed Basquiat’s work, from jazz, anatomy, sports figures, comics, classical literature, the African diaspora, and art history. The exhibition partially restages three of the artist’s critical early shows, including an exhibition of the artist’s paintings and drawings of heads at Robert Miller Gallery; his most important canvases from Gagosian Gallery’s 1982 show in Los Angeles; and Basquiat’s solo show at Fun Gallery in the East Village. Buchhart also considers in-depth the artist’s so-called stretcher bar paintings, in which the normally hidden wooden supports for stretched canvases are exposed, works that have yet to be explored at length by scholars. In so doing, Buchhart offers a critical assessment of the enduring importance and legacy of the artist’s work.
Dieter Buchhart is a curator and art theorist based in Vienna. He has PhD degrees in art history and restoration science. He has curated many exhibitions in renowned international museums and art spaces, and has published nearly ten books on the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat.