Many know artist Jean-Michel Basquiat as the creative genius who solidified the bold, graffiti-inspired style central to the neo-expressionist movement of the 1980s. While the art world has heralded the late visionary for decades, its larger portrayal of his work hasn’t necessarily prioritized his perspective as much. But now, Basquiat’s very own family members have unveiled a first-of-its-kind exhibition at the Starrett-Lehigh Building in West Chelsea, NYC.
“Jean-Michel Basquiat: King Pleasure” is the first major retrospective to be curated and executive produced solely by the Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. His family’s 15,000-square-foot collection of over 200 never before or rarely seen paintings, drawings, ephemera, and artifacts paint an intimate, humanistic portrait of the artist.
The focal point of the installation is a recreation of Basquiat’s Great Jones Street studio by architect Sir David Adjaye OBE, featuring sketchbooks, notes, clothing, records, books, and VHS tapes. The opening of “King Pleasure” aligns with the release of a Rizzoli Electa book of the same name, authored by Basquiat’s family and designed by Pentagram Partner Abbott Miller. Its design evokes the warm, organic feel of a family scrapbook, emphasized by Basquiat’s hand-lettering along the book’s edge.
Last fall, Miller and Pentagram announced the exhibition with a promotional campaign that used portraits of Basquiat throughout his life. This visual identity nods to an intimacy and personal perspective that sets “King Pleasure” apart from other exhibitions of Basquiat’s work. The accompanying graphics emphasize his singular legacy by using the same vibrant colors seen throughout his paintings.
“Jean-Michel Basquiat: King Pleasure” will see a year-long run through April 2023. Tickets are available now on the exhibition’s site.