2005-03-17 / Arts & Entertainment

Brooklyn Artist Works On Exhibit At Brooklyn Museum

By Deepti Hajela Associated Press Writer

By Deepti HajelaAssociated Press Writer

In Italian, 1983. Acrylic, oil paintstick, and marker on canvas mounted on wood supports, two panels. Courtesy The Stephanie and Peter Brant Foundation, Greenwich, Connecticut In Italian, 1983. Acrylic, oil paintstick, and marker on canvas mounted on wood supports, two panels. Courtesy The Stephanie and Peter Brant Foundation, Greenwich, Connecticut

  • At 6 years old, Jean-Michel Basquiat already had a museum membership. By his early 20s, he was an internationally renowned artist, counting Andy Warhol among his friends and collaborators. At 27, he was dead of a heroin overdose.
  • Basquiat’s professional career may have been cut short but it was nonetheless important, said one of the curators of a new exhibition on the Brooklyn-born artist. “He isn’t getting the type of respect he deserves in art history,” said Marc Mayer, project director for the show.

    Jean-Michel Basquiat (American, 1960–1988). The Nile, 1983. Acrylic and oil paintstick on canvas mounted on wood supports. 
         Private collection, courtesy of Enrico Navarra Jean-Michel Basquiat (American, 1960–1988). The Nile, 1983. Acrylic and oil paintstick on canvas mounted on wood supports. Private collection, courtesy of Enrico Navarra “Basquiat” opened Friday at the Brooklyn Museum and runs through June 5 before traveling to Los Angeles and Houston. The show contains over 100 of the artist’s vividly colored paint-ings and drawings.

    Born in Brooklyn in 1960 to Haitian and Puerto Rican parents, Basquiat made his love of art known early, becoming a junior member of the Brooklyn Mu-seum. In his teens, he took up the pseudonym SAMO and made his graffiti mark around Lower Manhattan, part of the burgeoning rise of hip-hop expressionism on the streets of New York in the 1970s. By the time he was 20, he had moved on to paper and canvas.

    From his earliest shows, Basquiat was a darling of the critics, both here and in Europe, praised for his strong use of color and composition. He also put social commentary into his work, Mayer said.

    “It was much more about the individual, about self-expression with Bas-quiat and his generation,” Mayer said. “Basquiat was one of the artists who came into prominence at a time when artists really wanted to speak directly to a much larger public again.”

    His works contain references to other artists and people he admired, like boxers Joe Louis and Sugar Ray Robinson. He addressed issues of race in his art, and his life as a black man.

    “There are so many wonderful in-side jokes and these wonderful sort of winks at artists who came before him. He was very bright,’’ Mayer said.

    “Some of his paintings are scary, they’re so good. They sort of trick you into feeling that they’re really innocent. The more you look at them, the more you realize they’re a terrible indictment of Western civilization.’’

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