The much anticipated Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibition entitled Jean-Michel Basquiat: King Pleasure opened on April 9th in New York City. Held at the RXR’s Starrett-Lehigh Building, the NYC Landmark in West Chelsea the exhibition features over 200 never before and rarely seen paintings drawings, ephemera, and artifacts.
The exhibition is produced by The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat, with Jean-Michel’s sisters Lisane Basquiat and Jeanine Heriveaux serving as executive producers, in collaboration with Ileen Gallagher and ISG Productions Ltd.
The exhibition gives an intimate and multidimensional portrait of Jean-Michel that can only be told by his family. All of the work comes from the family’s collection with the vast majority never having been exhibited previously. Renowned design brand Arper will outfit the exhibition space to recreate the original feeling of the Michael Todd VIP Room at the Palladium.
“We wanted to bring his work and personality forward, in a way only his family can, for people to immerse themselves in. We want this to be an experiential and multi-dimensional celebration of Jean-Michel’s life.” – Lisane Basquiat
The exhibit is divided into seven themes chronologically exploring the life of Basquiat. Theme titles include Kings County, an overview of Jean-Michel’s childhood in Brooklyn and Puerto Rico, and World Famous, where Jean-Michel’s meteoric early success is shown. Other themes like IDEAL 57 Great Jones Studio Street expertly Basquiat recreates Basquiat’s Great Jones Studio circa August 1983.
The final three themes entitled Art Gallery, Palladium, and Place contain over 100 paintings and drawings, most never seen. Place contains oral histories from members of his family and a close circle of friends and posthumous awards and exhibitions. This exhibition showcasing the man behind the icon has been years in the making, from the initial idea in 2017 around the 30th anniversary of Jean-Michel’s passing to now.
“There have been many exhibitions of Jean-Michel’s work, but never told from the perspective of the family – Jean-Michel as a child, a man, a son, and a brother. As we were all in lockdown, we said: ‘You know what, maybe now is the right time.’”
Jean-Michel had much early success, including solo shows in New York and Los Angeles in 1982, as well as being the youngest of 176 artists exhibited at Documenta 7 in Kassel, Germany. He made the cover of the New York Times Magazine section in 1985. He was a pivotal figure in bringing Uptown and Downtown NYC counterculture together. As an active participant in both NYC’s hip hop and post-punk communities, his work itself is a bridge between these worlds, incorporating elements of the storytelling and iconography of hip hop along with the fearless experimentation and DIY ethos of post-punk.
“Jean-Michel stands at the forefront of a legacy of really strong people who are committed to showing up in the world in a specific way. And that runs through our bloodline. Now our children know what can happen when you live your truth, when you stand up for what’s right for you, and exert work ethic, passion & commitment to why you believe you’re here. Partly because of this blueprint, every one of our children lives in the authenticity of who they are, in their own different ways.” – Lisane Basquiat
Universal and world-renowned, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s art is also incredibly personal and intimate. Through all his contributions to art history, exploring themes that still ring true today — from inequality, social justice, classism, objectification of women, and the history of the Black experience — Jean-Michel was also a generous, inquisitive, brilliant, fun-loving & hardworking man. No one knows this inner strength of character more than his family, who are now offering a glimpse into his world by bringing never before and rarely seen works to light.
“We really want people to have a chance to see his creativity, get into his process and leave inspired.”
Tickets can be purchased at the exhibition website, https://kingpleasure.basquiat.com/.