Louis Vuitton Foundation – Jean-Michael Basquiat

Just around the corner – Autumn in Paris is enchanting, one of the most beautiful seasons to visit. An additional reason to visit, Louis Vuitton Foundation presents Jean-Michael Basquiat.
Upcoming Exhibition – From October 3, 2018 to January 14, 2019.

I was in Paris for the blockbuster “Icons of Modern Art. The Shchukin Collection” at the Vuitton Museum, it was perfectly orchestrated, so I expect the same for this important exhibition.

The work of Jean-Michel Basquiat, one of the most important painters of the twentieth century, unfolds in four levels of the building of Frank Gehry.

From the website: “The exhibition covers, from 1980 to 1988, the entire career of the painter focusing on more than 120 decisive works. Like the Heads of 1981-1982, for the first time gathered here, or the presentation of several collaborations between Basquiat and Warhol , the exhibition includes previously unseen ensembles in Europe, essential works such as Obnoxious Liberals (1982) , In Italian (1983) or Riding with Death (1988), and paintings rarely seen since their first presentations during the artist’s lifetime, such as Offensive Orange (1982), Untitled (Boxer) (1982), and Untitled (Yellow Tar and Feathers) (1982)© Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat Licensed by Artestar, New York © Louis Vuitton Foundation / Marc Domage

Right out of childhood, Jean-Michel Basquiat leave school and make New York street his first workshop. Soon, his painting will be a success both wanted and suffered. The exhibition affirms its dimension as a major artist having radically renewed the practice of drawing and the concept of art. His copy-and-paste practice paved the way for the fusion of the most diverse disciplines and ideas. He created new spaces for reflection and anticipated, in doing so, our Internet and post-Internet society and our current forms of communication and thought. The sharpness of his eyes, his attendance at museums, reading many books gave him a real culture. But his gaze is oriented: the absence of black artists appears with painful evidence; the artist then imposes himself to make exist, with parity.

The death of Basquiat in 1988 interrupts a very prolific work, done in just a decade, with more than a thousand paintings and more drawings. The exhibition unfolds on nearly 2500m2. It is organized chronologically, but also by sets of works defining themes and dictating reconciliations. For Dieter Buchhart, “The exhibition follows its creation, from its first drawings and monumental works to screen prints, collages and later assemblages, highlighting its inimitable touch, its use of words, phrases and enumerations and its recourse to concrete hip hop poetry. To the existence of the African-American man threatened by racism, exclusion, oppression and capitalism, he opposes his warriors and heroes. ”

We can, of course offer VIP Private Visit- however, these limited options will reserve quickly!
The proposed route is chronological

Ground floor (gallery 2)
The exhibition opens with the exceptional set of three large Heads dating from 1981-1983. Follows, around the theme of the street – conceived as a workshop, source of inspiration, living body – the presentation of a set of works, mostly from 1981-1982, which echo in their compositions the energy, the intensity of the urban environment and its language. Let’s mention here Crowns (Peso Neto) . This first moment of the exhibition ends with the great characters painted by the artist, the “prophets” and the striking portrait of a black policeman (Irony of Negro Policeman) .

Ground Floor (Gallery 4)
This second stage of the exhibition is marked by a set of thirty head designs made mostly in 1982 by the artist. This hanging works as a huge composition of faces occupying the entire field of view of the viewer; he emphasizes the importance of drawing in Basquiat.
Further on, the graphic energy of the dozen works presented on the same floor expresses all the rage, the contestation, the revolt of Basquiat. It is symbolized by great African-American figures – boxers or fighters – who are also his personal heroes: Untitled (Sugar Ray Robinson) (1982), St. Louis Joe Surrounded by Snakes (1982), Cassius Clay (1982) … The introduction of letters, numbers, signs and texts in the background shows the complexity of the compositions, as in Santo # 1 (1982), Self-Portrait with Suzanne (1982), Untitled (1982), Portrait of the Artist as a Young Derelict (1982).

Level 1 (Gallery 5)
“Heroes and Warriors” open this sequence. A front figure of black boxer, Untiled (Boxer) (1982), iconic masterpiece, makes the link with the previous section. The heroic characters are adorned with halos, crowns, or crowns of thorns … The emancipating figure of Samson appears in Obnoxious Liberals (1982). The journey continues with paintings linking a long history and archetypes with the direct environment of the artist, in compositions fed with stories and fragmentary writings, such as Price of Gasoline in the Third World(1982) or Slave Auction (1982), which deals directly with the slave trade. Another key board, In Italian (1983) testifies to the colorist talent of Basquiat.
The last time of the gallery 5 is organized around the music and especially the figure of jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker, one of Basquiat’s heroes. Five works return to a legendary figure he considers an alter ego: CPRKR (1982), Horn Players (1983), Charles the First (1982), Discography (One) (1983), Now’s the Time (1985).

Level 1 (gallery 6)
The room brings together six canvases in which writing plays a central role, including Museum Security (Broadway Meltdown) (1983) and Hollywood Africans in Front of the Chinese Theater with Footprints of Movie Stars (1983) representing the painter surrounded by friends.

Level 1 (gallery 7)
At a distance, the space of the gallery 7 makes it possible to group together a series of four works – Lye (1983), Flash in Naples (1983), Napoleonic Stereotype (1983) – composed from a similar motif: a grid on which come to pose the figures, borrowed from the history, the history of the art or the immediate context of the artist.

Level 2 (gallery 9)
Two major ensembles are proposed in this room.
The first group around the monumental Grillo , 1984, a related group, including Gold Griot . There are references to an African culture reinterpreted and conveyed by the diaspora, where the black figure prevails, omnipresent.
The second set is devoted to the relationship between Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol . Portrait made in 1982 by Basquiat, Dos Cabezas,1982, inaugurates this mutual fascination and introduces a set of works made with four hands from 1984. Warhol and Basquiat collaborate freely mixing drawing and screen printing. Mind energy (1984), OP-OP (1984) and Eiffel Tower (1985) are included here.

Level 2 (galleries 10 and 11)
The last rooms are organized into two sections, one centered on large formats from 1985-1987, mixing acrylic, pastel bold and collages. Graphic processes that seem to be borrowed from the musical techniques of sampling create a dense surface, exploded compositions, suggesting a multiplicity of readings. The other section, titled Unbreakable (Unbreakable), takes the title of a 1987 work, brings together some of the artist’s latest productions, including the impressive Riding with Death (1988). The painting bears witness to the artist’s complex pictorial heritage, which combines references to Renaissance art, icon painting and the most radical currents of the twentieth century. feeling of disarticulation in a furious and desperate race to nothingness.”

The Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibition was made possible thanks to the collaboration of the Louis Vuitton Foundation and the Brant Foundation.

Picasso Museum Paris

Fall has arrived in Paris and with the gray fading light comes the reopened Picasso Museum. Closed for expansion in 2009, the reopening was delayed due to bulging budgets, staff firings, and a multitude of problems – without some dramatic elements, how would this be the City of Light? Accustomed to strife, history teaches us that Haussmann managed to renovate Paris again and again under Napoleon III.

Portrait of A Woman With A Hat

Portrait of A Woman With A Hat With Pompoms And A Printed Blouse

Always a popular museum, and with the expansion, it is now twice the size; I am certain Monsieur Picasso would have enjoyed the maneuvering. Containing over 400 Picasso works, it also includes pieces of his personal collection: Degas, Cezanne, Miro and Matisse. He might have been described, in current colloquialisms, as a hoarder – never letting go of his notes, ephemera from lovers and abandoned lovers. Upon his death in 1973, his family donated a vast amount of his archives to the French government to avoid paying estate taxes. The museum collection contains much of the archived materials.

Critics complain the interior is choppy, the collection is displayed in a peculiar arrangement of subject matter and inaccurate time framing of the works. Don’t let the critics influence your visit.

Since I haven’t visited this week, I cannot comment. Other than imagine Picasso in a typical Gallic shrug: Je n’y peux rien.


The Picasso Museum is in the Hôtel Salé, 5 Rue de Thorigny, Paris; museepicassoparis.fr/en/.