Arrived on Thursday evening to find a huge line down the block on West 24th Street. Luckily I was recognized and immediately ushered into the gallery.
The excitement that I felt over 30 years ago came rushing back when I first viewed 12 unframed drawings of Basquiat on the floor of Larry’s space in LA.
His talent for drawing surfaced early in his life and by age 6, his mother had enrolled him in a junior art class at the Brooklyn Museum. At 15 as a troubled teenager, he ran away from home and gained notoriety as a graffiti artist under the name SAMO. My first glimpse of Basquiat, the wild child, was at age 20, when he was living in the basement of Annina Nosei’s gallery on Prince Street. When Larry first saw the work at this time he was electrified by it. He got to know him and soon after invited him to work and stay in his house in LA.
|Basquiat installation at Gagosian|
This beautifully installed exhibition shows Basquiat’s struggles to fit into the daunting art world as the son of a Haitian-American father and Puerto Rican mother. He painted and drew his heroes, athletes, kings, warriors, musicians, and self-portraits with a rawness and emotional anguish, which is chilling to the bone.
His intuitive sense of rhythm, composition, his unique iconography and technique, as well as his inspiration from art history (African Art, Picasso, de Kooning and Rauschenberg) propelled him to become one of the hot stars of the 80’s. His star fell when he overdosed in 1988 at the age of 27.
Included in the exhibition is Jean-Michel’s last painting entitled “Riding with Death,”1988 inspired by Rembrandt’s “The Polish Rider,” 1665, which is in the Frick Collection in NY.
His fame and talent is still heralded 25 years after his death. Leave it to Larry! He has put together an amazing exhibition featuring over 50 works from both private and public collections.
Off to the dinner…