Basquiat At The Barbican

  Jean-Michel Basquiat pictured with friend and collaborator Andy Warhol / Photo: Tseng Kwong Chi

Jean-Michel Basquiat pictured with friend and collaborator Andy Warhol / Photo: Tseng Kwong Chi

Introducing many in the UK to his work for the very first time, the Barbican’s ‘Basquiat: Boom For Real’ has been one of the year’s most hotly anticipated exhibitions. Without a single piece by the American artist on display in any public collection in the country, it has been the record-breaking sums fetched by his work, rather than the work itself, that many Briton’s associate with Basquiat, so adding substance to an almost mythical status is something which the Barbican’s exhibition is looking to achieve.

Running until 28th January, ‘Basquiat: Boom for Real’ brings together over 100 pieces of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s work, from a prolific career that was sadly cut short at the age of just 27 by a heroin overdose. With an experimental style and taking inspiration from a myriad sources, the artist’s raw, cartoon-like imagery, often daubed with text from books and newspapers, is highly original, if rather startling.

  Untitled (Fallen Angel) 1981 by Jean-Michel Basquiat / basquiat.com

Untitled (Fallen Angel) 1981 by Jean-Michel Basquiat / basquiat.com

Given Basquiat’s relatively unknown persona this side of the pond, the extensive archive documenting his life that sits alongside the artwork is a welcome addition, and helps place the artist within the wider cultural context of his time, the post-punk underground art scene of downtown New York. 

  Jean-Michel Basquiat, Self-Portrait, 1984 / Courtesy Private Collection

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Self-Portrait, 1984 / Courtesy Private Collection

It’s hard to believe that Basquiat lived for such a short time, given the sheer volume of work he produced, and while some question his talent, the exhibition reveals a man much greater than his myth.

Read more about the exhibition here.