In February 2018 the SCHIRN will be hosting a large exhibition on the work of US artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.

To date, he is the youngest artist ever to have participated in Documenta: American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960—1988), who numbers among the most important artists of the 20th century, began his artistic career in the post-Punk underground art scene in New York’s Lower Manhattan in the late 1970s and as early as 1982 gained international recognition at the most important international exhibition of contemporary art in Kassel.

Jean-Michel Basquiat on the set of Downtown 81. Photo: Edo Bertoglio © New York Beat Film LLC. By permission of the estate © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat Basquiat, Licensed by Aretstar, New York

Basquiat’s uncommonly vibrant, raw imagery is a result of him being extremely well read, an aspect that runs through his work and is evident in his use of upper case letters and text fragments. The latter provide a clue to Basquiat’s encyclopedic interests and his experience as a young artist without an academic training. From February 16, 2018 “Basquiat: Boom for Real” presents an outstanding selection of over 100 works in the SCHIRN gallery – on loan from international museums and private collections – many of them on show for the first time in Germany. 

Excitement in the New York art scene

The exhibition also reveals the artist’s relationship to music, text, film and television of his day, placing Basquiat’s artistic explorations in a broader cultural context. It was in 1978 that the media first became aware of Basquiat, when under the pseudonym SAMO© (for “same old bullshit”) he and his school friend Al Diaz left enigmatic graffiti statements on the walls in Soho’s gallery district, causing a stir in New York’s art scene. Soon afterwards he collaged baseball cards and postcards, painted on clothing or architecture fragments and increasingly on enormous canvases.

Jean-Michel Basquiat painting, 1983, © Roland Hagenberg © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Licensed by Aretstar, New York

The highlights of the exhibition include the reconstruction of several of his earliest works to go on display, created for Diego Cortez’ pioneering group show “New York/New Wave” in PS1 in February 1981. These pieces make it easy to appreciate how Basquiat was able to win the admiration of art world and critics alike so incredibly quickly. 

More than 30 years after Basquiat’s last presentation in a public collection in Germany Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt is devoting a major survey to the American artist in cooperation with Barbican Art Gallery, London.


The free Digi­to­rial provides you with back­ground infor­ma­tion about the key exhi­bi­tion aspects. 

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