It’s about time that the UK turned its attention to Jean-Michel Basquiat, a pioneering graffiti artist who painted the town – that is, downtown – of 1980s New York. With more than 100 colourful canvases on display, Basquiat: Boom for the Real at the Barbican is the first large-scale exhibition dedicated to the young prodigy, whose career was cut short by a heroin overdose when he was 27.
Although few works by Basquiat are found in public collections, you may have heard rumblings about the privately owned pieces (and their prices) that occasionally pop up at auctions around the world. The attraction? As the Barbican shows, this was – and is – about more than the images he created.
This exhibition explores the artist’s swift rise to fame in New York’s underground art scene and the subjects that inspired him, from 19th-century impressionism and silent films to anatomical drawings and bebop jazz.
Until 28 January 2018.
The Barbican Centre, Level 3, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS.
Photo: Barbican Centre.