By Jack Arnhold, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – This Friday, October 12th, CCBB will open the largest Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibition in Latin America, presenting over eighty works by the influential twentieth-century artist, including paintings, drawings, prints and more.
Described by The New York Times as “the most famous of only a small number of young black artists who have achieved national recognition,” Jean-Michel Basquiat’s status in the art world has continued to grow since his early death in 1988.
The son of Afro-Caribbean immigrants, New Yorker Jean-Michel Basquiat ran away from home at age fifteen and spent the intervening years on the street until his discovery as an artist. Described by Pieter Tjabbes as a “personification of the transformations of his city in the 1970s and 1980s,” Basquiat went from homelessness to art-stardom within a couple of years.
Alongside his paintings, he collaborated with musicians such as Blondie, Grandmaster Flash, and even had a brief relationship with Madonna. The first public showing of Basquiat’s work was in a group exhibition that also included contributions from William S Burroughs, David Byrne, Keith Haring, and Robert Mapplethorpe.
His technique, groundbreaking for the time, included covering his canvases with a mixture of elements such as collages, xerox copies, slogans in spraypaint, and scrawled images of human anatomy. The result, as Tjabbes points out, are “works that reflect the rhythms, sounds and urban life of New York, synthesizing the artistic, musical, literary and political discourse of the time.”
All this attracted the attention of critics, curators and buyers. Basquiat became a darling of the New York art world, having his work exhibited in the some of the world’s most prestigious galleries and, even before his sudden death, earning comparisons to giants such as Rauschenberg, de Kooning, Pollock, and even his initial champion and sometime collaborator, Andy Warhol.
A biopic of Basquiat’s life, featuring David Bowie and Dennis Hopper, was screened at Rio’s Caixa Cultural last year in honor of the late British singer.
What: Basquiat at CCBB RJ
When: October 12th to January 7th; Wednesdays to Mondays, 9AM-9PM
Where: Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil Rio de Janeiro, Rua Primeiro de Março, 66 – Centro