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Jean-Michel Basquiat

120 defining works of Jean-Michel Basquiat that cover the artist’s whole career from 1980-1988 are installed across all four floors of Frank Gehry’s spectacular building, the exhibition includes many firsts. This exhibition will be an opportunity to see Basquiat clearly – as a great artist and a genius of draughtsmanship.

Basquiat’s exceptional trilogy Heads (1981-1983), will be presented together for the first time alongside several works by Basquiat and Warhol, including Dos Cabezas (1982), which marked the beginning of mutual fascination and collaboration between the artists.

The exhibition also includes works that have never been seen in Europe as well as paintings which have rarely been seen since their first presentations during the artist’s lifetime such as Offensive Orange (1982), Untitled (Boxer) (1982), Untitled (Tenant) (1982), Baptismal (1982) or Lye (1983).

For the curator Dieter Buchhart, “The exhibition follows his work, from the first drawings and monumental works to the later prints, collages and assemblages, shedding light on his inimitable touch, use of words, phrases and enumerations, and his recourse to concrete hip hop poetry. To the image of the African American man threatened by racism, exclusion, oppression and capitalism, he opposed warriors and heroes.”

At a young age, Jean-Michel Basquiat left school and made his first studio in the streets of New York. Very quickly, his painting achieved great success, which the artist both sought out and felt subjected to. His work refers back to the eruption of modernity, that of the expressionists, but his filiations are numerous. The acuteness of his gaze, his visits to museums, and the reading of a number of books gave him a real sense of culture. Yet this gaze was directed: the absence of black artists being painfully evident, the artist imposed the need to depict African and African American culture and revolts in equal measure in his work. Basquiat’s death in 1988 interrupted a very prolific body of work, carried out in under a decade, with over one thousand paintings and even more drawings.

This exhibition has been made possible through the collaboration of the Fondation Louis Vuitton and the Brant Foundation.

The exhibition Jean-Michel Basquiat​ will be held at the same time as an exhibition of works by Egon Schiele. Both shows are curated by Dieter Buchhart with Suzanne Pagé, Artistic Director of the Fondation Louis Vuitton.

From opposite ends of the 20th century, from America—New York—to Europe—Vienna—the lives and works of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Egon Schiele are fascinating for their fleetingness and their intensity. Both died at a very young age—27 for Basquiat and 28 for Schiele.

In under a decade, they became major figures in the art of their century. They are linked by their destiny and their fortune, that of a short-lived body of work, the impact and permanency of which have few equals. Their formidable output can be explained by their passion for life which today, in the 21st century, has made them real “icons” for new generations. The vital necessity of art is the main element in these two exceptional bodies of work.

curator: Dieter Buchhart

Fondation Louis Vuitton
Bois de Boulogne
8, Avenue du Mahatma Gandhi
75116 Paris | France


Jean-Michel Basquiat, Grillo. © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York. © Fondation Louis Vuitton / Marc Domage.

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