Kenny Scharf 1958 –

Kenny Scharf was honored at the TriBeCa Ball at the New York Academy of Art on April 19th.

The annual event raises funds for the Academy’s programming and also gives Academy students a chance to showcase and sell their own artwork.

Scharf painted a mural at the Academy the day before the event. “My connection to the school goes way back to the ’70s, and it’s actually why I moved to New York,” Scharf said, in an interview in  Vogue magazine. “[Eileen Guggenheim (current head of the Academy)] was a visiting teacher of mine at the University of California Santa Barbara. She was a visiting teacher from New York, and it was a very big lecture hall, maybe 500 kids in there, but she was teaching 20th-century art and we were all wrapped listening to her great story-telling, but basically when she got to the factory-ing and Warhol and all the excitement about the life of an artist, basically I sold my car and moved to New York, 1977.”

Scharf was joined at the Ball by Brian Donnelly (KAWS), Brooke Shields, who is on the Academy’s Board and other celebrities and major players in the art world.

Kenny Scharf came of age as an artist in the 1980s East Village art scene, along with Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. He was born and raised in Los Angeles, and lives and works there now, close to his grandchildren.

He lost some of his closest friends during the 1980s, from drug overdoses and AIDS. In spite of the difficulty of the times, Scharf’s work has always focused on joy, hope and optimism. He was one earliest artists to bridge the gap between illegal graffiti and street art.

Jean-Michel Basquiat 1960-1988

Jean-Michel Basquiat’s meteoric rise to fame in the 1980s was a blessing and curse. He was one of the most talented artists of his day and, sadly, died from a heroin overdose at the age of 27.

He was prolific, a true and unique artist, who painted when and where he could. He painted on canvas and board in his studio even left his mark on the walls and appliances in friends’ apartments. Basquiat worked hard and lived hard.

Basquiat’s sisters, Lisanne Basquiat and Jeanine Heriveaux, his stepmother Nora Fitzpatrick, and other extended family members, have curated an exhibit that they hope shows the true character of the artist as opposed to the Pop icon that he has become.

They have even recreated rooms, with original furniture, from Basquiat’s family home. “Not only did he sketch and paint and draw—he was a poet,” Jeanine Heriveaux said, in a Brooklyn Magazine interview. “He was an actor, he was a producer. He auditioned to be a member of a noise band. He walked the runway for Commes des Garcons in Paris.”

The show includes more than 200 never-before  or rarely seen artworks by Basquiat. King Pleasure, is the title of the exhibit and the title of a painting created by Basquiat in 1987. King Pleasure is the name of a bebop-loving bartender turned jazz vocalist whose first hit, in 1952, “Moody’s Mood For Love,” catapulted him to fame. A soundtrack of some of Basquiat’s favorite music accompanies the exhibit. Listen Like Basquiat can be accessed on the Spotify website.

Jean-Michel Basquiat: King Pleasure is currently on exhibit at the Starrett-Lehigh Building in Chelsea.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the works of Kenny Scharf and Jean-Michel Basquiat available at VFA.

John Ortved. The Artist Kenny Scharf Honored at TriBeCa Ball. The New York Times. April 22, 2022.
Kristen Tauer. Inside NYAA’s Tribeca Ball Honoring Kenny Scharf. Women’s Wear Daily. April 20, 2022.
Zachary Weiss. Brooke Shields, Naomi Watts, and More Honor Kenny Scharf at this Year’s Tribeca Ball. Vogue. April 21, 2022.
Vittoria Benzine. ‘Badassery in Action.’: New Basquiat exhibit shows the man behind the mythology. Brooklyn Magazine. April 13, 2022.
Tessa Solomon. Listen to Basquiat’s Favorite Music With Spotify Playlists Curated for a New Immersive Exhibition. ArtNews. April 14, 2022.
Carl Swanson. A Basquiat Family Reunion The artist’s sisters have put on an exhibition of his work to remind the world where he came from — and have a party. New York Magazine/Curbed. April 11, 2022.