Jean Michel-Basquiat’s impact on art and popular culture is the stuff of legend. Although he was only 27 when he died of a heroin overdose, this former graffiti artist was known for his colorful abstract paintings, unorthodox hairstyle, and friendships with pop artists Keith Haring and Andy Warhol. He developed a style that can never be recreated, but often imitated.
Basquiat’s work has been used in television and film, fashion, and more recently as the centerpiece for Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s campaign for Tiffany & Co.
Although his paintings—which focused on historical figures, to themes ranging from social issues to popular culture—have been in heavy circulation throughout the years, there’s a lot we haven’t seen. Fortunately, that will all change very soon.
Basquiat’s family revealed that the upcoming exhibition Jean Michel-Basquiat: King Pleasure© opens on April 9, 2022, at the Starrett-Lehigh Building in Manhattan and will show rare and never before work from the iconic artist.
The title of the exhibition is a reference to one of Basquiat’s previous paintings, according to HypeArt:
Jean-Michel Basquiat: King Pleasure© takes its title from a painting the artist made in 1987 that referenced the name of a bartender turned jazz vocalist who would go on to produce a hit track in 1952, titled, “Moody’s Mood for Love.”
Sir David Adjaye OBE, the highly acclaimed architect, will be the Exhibition Designer for the show that will include 200 pieces of Basquiat’s work, in celebration of the painter’s life and story, HypeArt reports. A book of the same name will also be released by Rizzoli Electa in conjunction with the show’s opening.
“The vision for this project — to reclaim the narrative of Basquiat’s life and work and to shed new light on an artist that is only partially understood — aligns deeply with my studio’s mission of using design as a storytelling device,” Adjaye said in a press release. “I envision the exhibition as an intimate narrative journey that not only displays his trailblazing career but cultivates his spirit and mission through the eyes and insights of his own family.”
Much of Basquiat’s early art could be found on the sides of buildings during the late 1970’s in Lower Manhattan. Graffiti was his first love; and this romance gave birth to the graffiti tag SAMO, which is pronounced like “Same old shit.” Basquiat added phrases from his old SAMO paintings in his later endeavors, some of which can be seen in the upcoming exhibition.
The show will highlight different points in Basquiat’s life—from his childhood to his presence in the New York club scene during the 1980s. Ileen Gallagher, Principal of ISG Productions will produce the exhibition with the family of Basquiat, while Abbott Miller, a creative for Pentagram, headed the book’s creation and the show’s graphics.
“The most exciting aspect of the project is participating in a completely unique opportunity to interpret the work from such a personal perspective,” Miller said in the press release. “The framework of the show as a family-initiated project gives it this incredibly powerful point of view, a really unprecedented lens through which to see his work.”