Brooklyn-born artist Jean-Michel Basquiat (New York, 1960 – 1988) filled numerous notebooks with poetry fragments, wordplay, sketches, and personal observations ranging from street life and popular culture to themes of race, class, and world history.
The first major exhibition of the artist's notebooks, Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks at the Brooklyn Museum features 160 pages of these rarely seen documents, along with related works on paper and large-scale paintings. The exhibition runs from April 3 through August 23, 2015 in the Morris A. and Meyer Schapiro Wing, 4th Floor at The Brooklyn Museum - 200 Eastern Parkway Brooklyn, New York 11238-6052.
A self-taught artist with encyclopedic and cross-cultural interests, Basquiat was influenced by comics, advertising, children's sketches, Pop art, hip-hop, politics, and everyday life. Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks emphasizes the distinct interplay of text and images in Basquiat's art, providing unprecedented insight into the importance of writing in the artist's process.
The notebook pages on display contain early renderings of iconic imagery—tepees, crowns, skeleton-like figures, and grimacing faces—that also appear throughout his large-scale works, as well as an early drawing related to his series of works titled Famous Negro Athletes.
Photo credits:1. Untitled, 1986. Acrylic, collage, and oilstick on paper on canvas, 941⁄8 x 1362⁄5 in. (239 x 346.5 cm). Collection of Larry Warsh. Copyright © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat, all rights reserved. Licensed by Artestar, New York. Photo: Gavin Ashworth, Brooklyn Museum 2. Untitled (Crown), 1982. Acrylic, ink, and paper collage on paper, 20 x 29 in. (50.8 x 73.66 cm). Private collection, courtesy of Lio Malca. Copyright © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat, all rights reserved. Licensed by Artestar, New York. Photo: Mark-Woods.com