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Jean-Michel Basquiat at Mori Arts Center Gallery

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  • Jean-Michel Basquiat: Made in Japan

    21 September – 17 November 2019
    Mori Arts Center Gallery

     
    Jean-Michel Basquiat blazed across the art scene in the 1980s like a shooting star. Basquiat’s work continues to inspire many after his death at the young age of 27.

    The present exhibition is the first major show in Japan featuring Jean-Michel Basquiat, one of the greatest masters of 20th-century art. Approximately 130 original works of Basquiat – paintings, objects and drawings – on loan from different parts of the world are on display.

    This is also an original exhibition to shed light, for the first time in the world, on Basquiat’s multi-faceted connection with Japan, and the impact of Japanese history and culture on his artistic creations.

    The show has been curated by Dieter Buchhart, a leading Basquiat specialist and curator of multiple Basquiat exhibitions around the world.


    Free audio-guide and re-admission

    To fully enjoy the art of Basquiat, an English audio-guide can be rented free of charge, and also a ticket to this show will allow the visitor to see it for a second time.
    *A revisit is allowed only after 5 pm on weekdays during a specified period. Details are on the exhibition’s Japanese website.

    バスキア展 森アーツセンターギャラリー
    バスキア展 森アーツセンターギャラリー
    Installation views of “Jean-Michel Basquiat: Made in Japan”
    Artwork © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York


    Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988)

    Jean-Michel Basquiat is a Brooklyn-born artist. The poetic graffiti he sprayed across Manhattan as a member of group named SAMO© caused a buzz of interest in the art world. Quickly he made his name in SoHo establishments as a talented young artist and his works were exhibited at various places around the world.

    During a mere 10 years at the height of activity, Basquiat produced more than 3,000 drawings and 1,000 paintings, incorporating new figurative elements into his art. His works, charged with powerful energy, deal with such themes as jazz, hip hop and racism, responding to the trends of (post)modernist art in the 20th century.

    Basquiat became close friends with Keith Haring and Andy Warhol, and created 150 joint works with Warhol.

    Basquiat visited Japan three times in 1982, 1983 and 1985, when his pieces of art were shown in solo and group exhibitions.

    After his tragic death in 1988, his work has been even more highly valued. In recent years, retrospective exhibitions have been held at US and European museums.

    バスキア展 森アーツセンターギャラリー
    Jean-Michel Basquiat
    ©Roland Hagenberg

     

    What not to miss of the Basquiat exhibition

    Multi-layered and symbolic space

    In his work Basquiat created a complex space of multiple layers, incorporating lines, colours, human figures, symbols such as the crown and words written in capital letters (some are repeated, while others are crossed out). In each piece of art, these elements are laid out in compositions improvised like jazz, with a rhythm like rap, to represent poetically, symbolically and energetically such subjects as racism, history and heroes.

    バスキア展 森アーツセンターギャラリー
    Installation view
    Jean-Michel Basquiat
    Fooey, 1982
    The Museum of Art, Kochi
    Artwork © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York

    バスキア展 森アーツセンターギャラリー
    Basquiat depicted himself as a “trickster” with locks of hair on his head
    Installation view
    Jean-Michel Basquiat
    Self Portrait, 1985
    Private Collection
    Artwork © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York


    Made in Japan

    Basquiat captured Japan’s economic development and innovation in multiple layers of his art, from his viewpoint of the history and traditions in which they took root.

    In the early days Basquiat already touched, with a great sensitivity, on the history of US-Japan relations and the feelings of Americans toward Japanese people, in such works as a hip-hop poem, a drawing entitled “KING KONG VS. GODZILLA” and others depicting the dropping of atomic bombs.

    Made in Japan”, which is part of this show’s title, is a text symbolically woven into several Basquiat works and also used as the title of two of his paintings.

    バスキア展 森アーツセンターギャラリー
    He painted the letters “MADE IN JAPAN ©” in “Onion Gum”.
    Installation view
    Jean-Michel Basquiat
    Onion Gum, 1983
    Courtesy Van de Weghe Fine Art, New York
    Artwork © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York


    Besides “Made in Japan”, such elements as “origami”, “Japanese Yen” and “pagoda” appear as symbols that make up the complex space of Basquiat’s works.

    バスキア展 森アーツセンターギャラリー
    Jean-Michel Basquiat
    Plastic Sax, 1984
    agnès b. collection
    Artwork © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York

     

    The late 1970s and the 80s, at the height of Basquiat’s career, was the time when Japanese products such as high-tech electrical appliances swept the world.

    Meanwhile, Japan was in a long phase of stable economic growth, moving to the “bubble economy”. It was not until after Basquiat’s death that the bubble burst.

    バスキア展 森アーツセンターギャラリー
    In “Made in Japan I” (left in the image) and “Made in Japan II” (right), things resembling a phone, portable electronic devices and wires contour the Asian-looking face.
    Installation view
    Artwork © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York

     

    バスキア展 森アーツセンターギャラリー
    Napoleon” boldly proclaims “ONE MILLION YEN”, in contrast with “VERSUS PORK” repeated three times. The word “SHOE POLISH ©” above is crossed out.
    Installation view
    Jean-Michel Basquiat
    Napoleon, 1982
    Private Collection
    Artwork © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York

     

    バスキア展 森アーツセンターギャラリー
    Big Pagoda” (right in the image) carries the words “ESTIMATED 7000-9000 $”, which would have been the price of a Basquiat painting at that time. Together, a five-storied pagoda was drawn as a symbol of Japan.
    Installation view
    Artwork © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York

     

    バスキア展 森アーツセンターギャラリー
    In 2017, Yusaku Maezawa, the former president of ZOZO, a major online fashion retailer, purchased “Untitled” for a record 110.5 million dollars, the highest ever price paid for the art of an American artist.
    Installation view
    Jean-Michel Basquiat
    Untitled, 1982
    Yusaku Maezawa Collection, Chiba
    Artwork © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York

* The above is the information known at the time of publication and subject to change without prior notice.

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