Basquiat at the Barbican

Sex Drugs and Bacon Rolls attended the members evening of Basquiat at the Barbican – the good thing about the members’ nights is that there are less people in the gallery – if you time it right. We also got a couple of Long Island Ice Teas and a glass of wine inclusive, which we sipped in the wonderful conservatory (at night time it is almost magical).

The exhibition itself is split across two floors – in the typical style at the Barbican –  the exhibition looks to unravel his art and life through the pieces. The top floor is almost biographical. Starting with Basquiat’s early career, when New York was on the brink of ruin (crime rates rising, the city on the verge of bankruptcy and fires nightly) he created the character Samo – a play on the word ‘Same old shit’. NYC was crime ridden but Basquiat’s graffiti was witty, surreal and designed to be attention grabbing.

Mudd club was an underground haven – films, fashion shows and bands played. Basquiat was found there most nights with his band Gray.

There is also quite a focus on his relationship with Warhol, Basquiat’s idol, who he initally sold one of his first post cards to in 1978. Later, the exhibition showcases their collaborations, which started in 1984. Basquiat convinced Warhol to use the silkscreen technique for which Warhol was famous for.

The ground floor focuses on the wide array of influences and references throughout his work such as black history, cinema and jazz. Pop culture, particularly music was huge source of inspiration for him.

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