Tseng Kwong Chi (Chinese-Canadian-American, born Hong Kong, 1950–1990). Jean-Michel Basquiat in his Great Jones Street studio, New York, 1987. © 1987 Muna Tseng Dance Projects, Inc. New York.
The Brooklyn Museum are proud to presents an Exhibition of Little-Known Notebooks of the world famous artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. Up until now they have never before been available for Public Viewing. Basquiat: The Unknown Notebook opens at Brooklyn Museum April 3 and will run until August 23, 2015. Basquiats’ meteoric rise to fame has become legendary within the art world and in popular culture. Mythologized in films and referenced by hip-hop and rap artists. Jean-Michel first came to public attention in the late 70s for the aphorisms he spray-painted around lower Manhattan under the pseudonym SAMO©. Basquiat engaged in an exploration of messages across culture and society, combining historical and popular themes. Echoes of his style are often displayed in modern day artists’ works such as Banksy.
This exhibition offers eight rarely seen notebooks of Brooklyn born Basquiat. Through his use of visual language he took inspiration from comics, children’s drawings, advertising, and Pop art. Representing various cultures as well as everyday life in order to deliver his messages. Basquiat notebooks in the exhibition demonstrate how he began to develop these artistic strategies. It will feature 160 unbound notebook pages filled with the artist’s handwritten texts and sketches. Thirty related paintings, drawings, and mixed-media works drawn from private collections and the artist’s estate will also be on display. The notebook writings featured in this exclusive exhibition range from narrative poems and wordplay to observations of New York’s street life. Included in the Basquiat notebooks are anecdotes about celebrities and famous figures from the artists personal life.
As in his paintings, fragments of found texts appear throughout the notebooks, incorporating street signage, news stories, and references from literature and the Old Testament. The artist left Brooklyn in 1978 and moved to Manhattan. He lived on the streets with friends selling handmade postcards. Basquiat first exhibited his art publicly in 1980 at the Times Square Show, and his career as a studio artist and international celebrity followed a rapid path from that point onward. Basquiat’s often utilised his public persona to highlight his overriding interest in highlighting racial discrimination and acknowledging the important contributions of African Americans and other people of colour, as well as his interests in music, world history, and popular culture.