“Believe it or not, I can actually draw.”
Despite his brief career and a life cut short by a heroin overdose, the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat has influenced the trajectory of modern art, music and culture. Just last week, Basquiat’s 1982 painting, Four Big, sold for $10.6 million. The painting, which is made up of three joined canvases, was the top seller at Christie’s London Contemporary Art sale.
In 2017, another 1982 Basquiat painting, Untitled, sold for $110.5 million at Sotheby’s. Art dealer Jeffrey Deitch, former director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and a Basquiat expert said, “He’s now in the same league as Francis Bacon and Pablo Picasso.”
In 1981 Jean-Michel Basquiat was homeless. Glenn O’Brien, who wrote for and edited Andy Warhol’s Interview Magazine, put together a script for a film that he wanted to use to showcase the New York music scene that he had been writing about. He created a fairy tale, starring Basquiat, who played a homeless artist who travels around the city trying to sell his paintings.
Basquiat slept and worked in the production office during most of the shooting of the film. The production crew bought Basquiat canvas and paints to work on during the filming. The paintings that appear in the movie, belonging to Basquiat’s character, are by Basquiat himself, and are among his earliest works.
After a year of filming, the producers ran out of money and the project was abandoned in the beginning of 1981. Originally titled New York Beat Movie, O’Brien acquired the rights to the film in 1999, changed the title to Downtown 81 and released it at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival. The film will be shown at the Metograph in Manhattan on October 25th, before it goes into wide release.
Basquiat’s Work at the Tampa Museum of Art
Jean-Michel Basquiat: One Master Artist / Two Masterpieces is the title of just one part of the current exhibit at the Tampa Museum of Art. Two of Basquiat’s large collages are part of the current exhibit, Ordinary/Extraordinary: Assemblage in Three Acts. Also on display are works by artist Purvis Young, whose collages reflect his life in Overtown, Miami and a collection of 20th- and 21st-century Haitian Vodou flags, handcrafted from found objects. Although each exhibit stands alone, together they each reflect the African-Carribean-American experience.
The works of Jean-Michel Basquiat will be on display through November 20, 2019. The works of Purvis Young and the Haitian Vodou flags will be on exhibit through January 26, 2020.
The Work of Jean-Michele Basquiat at VFA
Please contact us if you would like more information about Flexible or any of the other fine art work at VFA.
Justin Curto. Jean-Michel Basquiat Film Downtown 81 Is Returning to Theaters. Vulture. October 4, 2019.
Annie Armstrong. Led by $10.6 M. Basquiat, Christie’s Contemporary Sale in London Brings in $80.4 M. ARTnews. October 4, 2019.
Maggie Duffy. Basquiat works, Haitian flags stun at the Tampa Museum of Art. Tampa Bay Times. September 26, 2019.