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Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat: Painting four hands
Exhibition View Basquiat x Warhol: Painting Four Hands, Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris© Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat Licensed by Artestar, New York, 2023 © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by ADAGP, Paris © Fondation Louis Vuitton / Marc Domage

Four reasons to see Louis Vuitton’s mega Basquiat x Warhol show

A monumental exhibition chronicling the legendary artists’ unlikely friendship just opened in Paris

Louis Vuitton already has a landmark exhibition chronicling its long history of joining forces with artists like Yayoi Kusama, Cindy Sherman, and Takashi Murakami happening in Paris right now, but apparently one monumental show just wasn’t enough for the house. Thank god, then, that also opening last week via an uber-exclusive Jay-Z gig was Painting four hands – a sprawling retrospective charting the collaboration between unlikely friends Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Five years after a major Basquiat exhibition took place at Vuitton’s Fondation – a cavernous Frank Gehry-designed cultural hub located in the leafy 16th arrondissement – Painting four hands picks up in 1984 when the two artists first met. Known for almost immediately picking up a brush and painting portraits of his new acquaintances, Warhol was caught off guard when Basquiat immediately disappeared with the Polaroid he had taken of the two of them. As the story goes, a hefty, still-dripping wet square canvas on which he and Basquiat were cartoonishly immortalised landed on the same table they had eaten lunch at just a few hours later. 

It was the beginning of a unique collaboration between the two, as they switched and swapped paintings and began a conversation that spoke not just through words, but their own respective markings. As friend and fellow artist Keith Haring put it, through their year-long partnership it was as if their brains had merged to create “a third distinctive and unique mind.” 

If you’re not already convinced, here are a handful of reasons why you need to head for Paris this summer.


There are over 160 artworks on show as part of Paint four hands, many of which are rarely brought out of the archives and put on public display. Highlights include Basquiat’s bastardisation of Warhol’s iconic banana, which in the young artist’s hands becomes a caricature of Warhol himself – its skin peeled, blonde wig perched on its point. 

Also brilliant is getting to see the full contact sheets from Michael Halsband’s legendary 1985 portrait of the two. With both poised in Everlast boxing gloves, the recognisable image became the poster ad for their 1985 exhibition in NY. At the Fondation, each outtake has been printed and plastered across the wall, as Basquiat and Warhol playfully tussle for the photographer. 

Alongside more lighthearted pieces, there are plenty more hard-hitting works, as the two explore the racism that to this day underpins American society – Basquiat himself often subjected to it, both on the streets and as he established himself in the NY art scene – as well as consumerism and capitalism – Warhol’s big corporate logos scrawled over by his outspoken creative partner.


Initially Warhol would paint a canvas and send it over to Basquiat, who would then add his own flair to the work through scrawled words and graffiti-like markings – his emblematic Samo crown, for example, appears consistently throughout, and the frantic creative energy that fizzed between the pair is palpable. In these early works, it’s easy to see where Warhol ends and Basquiat begins, their signature approaches easy to decipher. But as the relationship progresses, it soon becomes impossible to figure out who did what – two artists working with one mind, in the space of just a year. 


To give a greater picture of the electricity sparking through New York’s art scene in the mid-1980s, the Fondation has curated a selection of pieces from equally influential artists working at that time. Prepare to lay eyes on paintings, sculptures, and installations by Keith Haring, Jenny Holzer, Kenny Scharf, Future 2000, and many more. 


Good news for those feeling the pinch – if you’re under 26, a student, or a French teacher tickets are just ten euros, while for those under 18, a French job seeker, or an artist yourself, it’s just five euros for entry. Follow it up with a trip to LV Dream at the brand’s central HQ and you’ve got yourself a pretty reasonably priced day out.

Painting four hands runs from April 5 – August 8 2023. Head here to book your ticket.