Basquiat: Boom for Real – Barbican celebrates the pioneering prodigy of 1980s New York

Edo Bertoglio. Jean-Michel Basquiat wearing an American football helmet, 1981 | Photo: © Edo Bertoglio, courtesy of Maripol. Artwork: © The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York

Brace yourself for the first large-scale exhibition in the UK of the work of American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960—1988), one of the most significant painters of the 20th century.

Kicking off today at Barbican Art Gallery and running until 28 January 2018, Basquiat: Boom for Real is an unprecedented exhibition that brings together an outstanding selection of more than 100 works from international museums and private collections for the first time.

Engage in the explosive creativity of Basquiat who came of age in the late 1970s during the post-punk underground art scene in downtown New York, and later worked with Andy Warhol, Keith Haring and Blondie, among others.

Jean-Michel Basquiat Untitled, 1982 Courtesy Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam. © The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York. Photo: Studio Tromp, Rotterdam

Jean-Michel Basquiat Untitled, 1982 Courtesy Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam. © The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York. Photo: Studio Tromp, Rotterdam

Jean-Michel Basquiat Untitled (Pablo Picasso), 1984 Private collection, Italy. © The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York.

Jean-Michel Basquiat Untitled (Pablo Picasso), 1984 Private collection, Italy. © The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York.

Jean-Michel Basquiat Hollywood Africans, 1983 Courtesy Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. © The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat/ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ ADAGP, Paris. Licensed by Artestar, New York.

Jean-Michel Basquiat Hollywood Africans, 1983 Courtesy Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. © The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat/ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ ADAGP, Paris. Licensed by Artestar, New York.

His vibrant, raw imagery, abounding with fragments of bold capitalised text, offers insights into both his encyclopaedic interests and his experience as a young black artist with no formal training. Since his tragic death in 1988, Basquiat has had remarkably little exposure in the UK; not a single work of his is held in a public collection.

More than any other exhibition to date, Basquiat: Boom for Real focuses on the artist’s relationship to music, writing, performance, film and television, placing him within the wider cultural context of the time. Paintings, drawings, notebooks and objects are presented alongside rare film, photography, music and archival material, capturing the range and dynamism of Basquiat’s practice over the years.

Jean-Michel Basquiat King Zulu, 1986 Courtesy Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona. © The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York. Photo: Gasull Fotografia

Jean-Michel Basquiat King Zulu, 1986 Courtesy Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona. © The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York. Photo: Gasull Fotografia

13.‘LIKE AN IGNORANT EASTER SUIT’, Jean-Michel Basquiat on the set of Downtown 81. © New York Beat Film LLC. By permission of The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Photo: Edo Bertoglio

13.‘LIKE AN IGNORANT EASTER SUIT’, Jean-Michel Basquiat on the set of Downtown 81. © New York Beat Film LLC. By permission of The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Photo: Edo Bertoglio

Jean-Michel Basquiat dancing at the Mudd Club, 1979. © Nicholas Taylor

Jean-Michel Basquiat dancing at the Mudd Club, 1979. © Nicholas Taylor

Basquiat: Boom for Real runs until 28 January 2018 at Barbican Art Gallery. Tickets cost £16 and can be purchased online at barbican.org.uk.

Main image: Edo Bertoglio. Jean-Michel Basquiat wearing an American football helmet, 1981 | Photo: © Edo Bertoglio, courtesy of Maripol. Artwork: © The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York