Hold on. Hold your flaming horses. Don’t go sauntering over to Chelsea looking for the signs right now. Basquiat, who has forever cast his giant shadow over New York is coming back, it’s true, but hold those horses, ‘cos it’s not until Spring, 2022. But still, make travel plans outsiders.
The family of Jean-Michel Basquiat are presenting an exhibition of his work, Jean-Michel Basquiat: King Pleasure, opening Spring 2022 at the NYC landmark, the Starrett-Lehigh Building. Featuring over 200 paintings, drawings, multimedia presentations, ephemera and artifacts offering an intimate and multidimensional portrait of Jean-Michel that can only be told by his family. Pleasure King was conceived by his sisters Lisane Basquiat and Jeanine Heriveaux.
“We wanted to bring his work and personality forward, in a way only his family can, for people to immerse themselves in,” shares Lisane. “We want this to be a multi-dimensional celebration of Jean-Michel's life.”
When we saw Basquiat’s Major Retrospective at MOCA in Los Angeles, that show featured just over 100 works, I think, and while it was wholly exhilarating and beautiful, getting around was exhausting and blow me, kind of blunted the incredible impact of his work. And let’s not forget, we are charged by celebrity states so to find ourselves flattened so is weirdly something I have to ponder even now. At galleries, I don’t know what the art hangers do, do they front load these big shows? Those massive retrospectives can be tiring and in the end I think I had to visit twice, to get beyond the willing it to be over for the latter part of the rat run that those Major Art Event things can be.
Anyway, anyone who knows how much we love Basquiat and the very idea of Basquiat’s work will also know our only favorite Bowie moment, should not go unmentioned, and that is when he is playing Andy Warhol in Julian Schnabel’s 1996 Basquiat movie, starring now permanent CIA operative Jeffrey Wright (with hair!) as Basquiat... + a cavalcade of superstar cameos - who didn’t want to be in that film? It’s the scene that slides in from 1:19:11 after Tom Waits’ Who Are You This Time… Bowie’s Warhol and Wright (with hair!)’s Basquiat are in the studio and the culmination, the denouement of Bowie’s career, as Basquiat paints the future, right over Andy’s work, right there, Bowie at his best says, “I can’t see what’s good anymore.” It's the greatest.
Anyway, no Basquiat story can end without a drug reference, so let’s hope unlike Springsteen on Broadway, Basquiat in Chelsea admits the Astrazeneca tribe.
Main Image: Jean-Michel Basquiat 1982 ©1983 Van Der Zee
Official King Pleasure website here