The first major exhibition focusing on Jean-Michel Basquiat's many notebooks is going on show in Brooklyn. Until now, the legendary neo-expressionist artist's scrawls, scribbles and penned thoughts have been rarely observed. With 160 pages featured, the Brooklyn Museum show will provide unprecedented insight into the inspiration for some of his most famous works, as well as a revealing look at his artistic process.
Basquiat first gained attention with his involvement in graffiti group SAMO, notorious for spraying mysterious epigrams around Manhattan in the late 1970s. His big break came in 1981, when, following an immensely successful one-man show, famed art critic Rene Ricard published the first major article on the artist in Artforum titled “The Radiant Child”, and the world immediately took notice.
Heavily employing social commentary in his art, Basquiat interrogated and criticised systemic racism, power structures and notions of class, and in doing so made profound contributions to the movements of neo-expressionism and primitivism. Following close friend and art iconoclast Andy Warhol’s death in 1987, Basquiat grew increasingly depressed and spiralled into heroin addiction. By the time of his death from an overdose in 1988, influential figures on his own work, such as David Bowie and Keith Haring, could be counted as both fans and friends.
Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks runs April 3–August 23 at the Brooklyn Museum. For more information, click here