Guided Tour: Tuesday, December 5 at 11am
$35 for members, $45 non-members
(Space is limited)
Join The Carriage Barn Arts Center for a visit to Basquiat X Warhol at The Brant Foundation’s New York space (421 East 6th Street). The exhibition presents the artists together with a selection of masterpieces from their influential collaboration in the early eighties, unseen together in New York for over 20 years.
Curated by Dr. Dieter Buchhart and Peter M. Brant in collaboration with Dr. Anna Karina Hofbauer, his is the first time the collaboration has been the subject of a major New York exhibition since Andy Warhol & Jean-Michel Basquiat at Gagosian Gallery in 1997. The exhibition is traveling from Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, France.
Basquiat and Warhol occupied two distinct spaces in New York’s 1980s art scene. Although the two artists were familiar with each other—Warhol had even purchased two of Basquiat and Jennifer Stein’s early Anti-Product Baseball Cards in 1979 —it was not until their formal introduction at Warhol’s Factory in 1982 did the two form a friendship that would result in one of the most iconic collaborations of the 20th century.
On October 4, 1982, gallerist Bruno Bischofberger invited Jean-Michel Basquiat to Andy Warhol’s Factory to formally introduce the two artists. Warhol took a Polaroid of Basquiat and after a few shots, Basquiat asked Bischofberger to photograph him and Warhol together. Enthused by the encounter, Basquiat left immediately, and, according to Warhol, “within two hours” his assistant, Stephen Torton, appeared with a double portrait of the two artists, Dos Cabezas (1982).
In 1984, Basquiat and Warhol pursued a separate yet cooperative practice that would result in over 160 canvases. Meeting almost every day, the pair would work on multiple monumental canvases at once, from early hours into the evening. This enthusiastic exchange of energy is exemplified in their paintings, which illustrate a back and forth between that is both tense and complimentary. As stated by Basquiat, “Andy would start one [painting] and put something very recognizable on it, or a product logo, and I would sort of deface it. Then I would try to get him to work some more on it, I would try to get him to do at least two things.” The paintings are rife with both artists’ unique iconographies: Warhol’s screen-printed advertisements and cultural symbols are effaced by Basquiat’s iconic figures and signs; newspaper headlines included by Warhol are obscured and rewritten by Basquiat; scenes painted in Basquiat’s conceptual Neo-Expressionist style are joined by Warhol’s precise appropriations of brand logos. The artists also influenced each other: Warhol at times returned to his painterly beginnings, and Basquiat increased his use of the silkscreen-printing technique. “I drew it first and then I painted it like Jean-Michel,” said Warhol. “I think those paintings we’re doing together are better when you can’t tell who did which parts.”
The artist’s collaboration expanded beyond paintings as well. Ten Punching Bags (Last Supper) (1985-86) is a monumental sculpture of ten punching bags depicting portraits of Jesus Christ and repetitions of the word “JUDGE” referencing Catholic guilt—a recurring theme in Warhol’s later works—and the impact of the AIDS epidemic. Traversing artistic generations, Basquiat and Warhol’s collaboration tackled sociopolitical issues such as police brutality, colonialism, gentrification, and commodification. Keith Haring described their practice as “a physical conversation happening in paint instead of words.” In many ways their collaboration was an opportunity to jointly examine the socio-political upheaval and loss of friends and acquaintances in the 1980s.
“In their collaboration, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol came together and opened new ideas and spaces of thought that mirror both our present time as well as the past and future. The results are brilliant artworks that continue to have an impact in our own time as they appear to address pressing and highly relevant contemporary topics such as racism and consumerism. Their collaboration was a unique project and probably one of the greatest and most enduring in all of art history,” says Dr. Buchhart.
Basquiat X Warhol at the Brant Foundation in NYC