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SAMO, Michele Basquiat, Paris by LV Foundation

Updated: Feb 23, 2019

From October 3, 2018 to January 14, 2019, the Louis Vuitton Foundation is hosting an exhibition of two artists: Egon Schiele (1890-1918) and Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988). We already wrote about Schiele in New York City, an amazing exhibition. So, it would be interesting to discover unpublished works and learn more about Jean-Michele Basquiat’s life.

American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat was born in 1960 and died at 27, Egon Schile also died at 28. Basquiat was born in Brooklyn and became famous as a graffiti artist in NYC streets and later as neo-expressionist. Basquiat stormed the art world, he had a very intellectual approach, spoke fluent French, Spanish and English, loved poetry, history, and myths.

His career began at 17, making graffiti on the walls of buildings in Manhattan. The images consisted of meaningful phrases, the meaning of which was not always clear, such as: "Plush safe he think... SAMO" ("he thinks that plush protects... SAMO") or "SAMO as an escape clause" ("SAMO as a negation condition"). He had been working with a graffiti artist Al Diaz, and together they signed all their works as SAMO - an abbreviation for Same Old Shit. Later, when the friendship came to an end, Basquiat started writing "Samo is dead" all over the streets of downton New York.

At the end of 1978 the Village Voice published an article about graffiti highlighting the strange inscriptions by Jean-Michel. He was then invited to a cable show called TV Party.

Basquiat's international career began in 1981. Starting in 1982, Jean-Michel Basquiat regularly exhibited with Julian Schnabel, David Salle, Francesco Clemente, and Enzo Cucchi. A group of artists that art critics, curators and collectors soon called neoexpressionists. In the same year Basquiat met Andy Warhol, with whom subsequently he often collaborated.

This quite large exhibition—about 2500 square meters—includes works created in collaboration with Andy Warhol, as well as many paintings that have not been exhibited in Europe before. After Andy Warhol's death in February 1987, Jean-Michel became depressed, he died on August 12th, 1988 at the age of 27 from a heroin overdose.

According to the curators of the exhibition, the works of Schiele and Basquiat will be a kind of a showcase of the two rebels—innovators through decades and continents, demonstrating to viewers how much their creative aspirations and destinies are actually similar, proving that 1900s Freud's secessionist Vienna and 1980s New York are not so far apart.

Author Daria Mudrova



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