I visited The High Museum last week to peep the Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks exhibit. I wouldn’t call myself a fan, but I do like his work and appreciate the work of any artist that is discernible + unique. My [younger] cousin voiced that if Basquiat didn’t die so young, his work [the notebooks in particular] would not be in a museum. Basically, she was underwhelmed. But it is art. And the beauty of art is that it is all-encompassing. If nothing else, his work is very interesting and easily sparks conversation. I love his bold use of color and primitive style. Seeing it in person and reading about his life, I also learned how deeply disturbed Basquiat was; even his handwriting has a violent appearance.
Basquiat’s art focused on “suggestive dichotomies“, such as wealth versus poverty, integration versus segregation, and inner versus outer experience. He appropriated poetry, drawing, and painting, and married text and image, abstraction, and figuration, and historical information mixed with contemporary critique.
Basquiat used social commentary in his paintings as a “springboard to deeper truths about the individual”, as well as attacks on power structures and systems of racism, while his poetics were acutely political and direct in their criticism of colonialism and support for class struggle. He died of a heroin overdose at his art studio at age 27. [wikipedia]
The notebooks are filled with images and words that recur in Basquiat’s paintings and other works. Iconic drawings and pictograms of crowns, teepees, and hatch-marked hearts share space with handwritten texts, including notes, observations, and poems that often touch on culture, race, class, and life in New York. Like his other work, the notebooks vividly demonstrate Basquiat’s deep interests in comic, street, and pop art, hip-hop, politics, and the ephemera of urban life. They also provide an intimate look at the working process of one of the most creative forces in contemporary American art.Basquiat, creating an arsenal of memorable works in his short life, is an inspiration for all artists to leave their mark, no matter how small or unusual. We should strive to create something that will outlive us, spark conversations about how deranged, intelligent or boring we were decades from now. [The Notebooks]
P.S. May 18 is International Museum Day and The High will be free! [Every second Sunday is free as well, hence all the strangers in my photos.] If you’re not in town, you may want to discover if museums in your area are participating with their own discounts, free admissions and celebrations.