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Michael Halsband, "Andy Warhol & Jean-Michel Basquiat #143 New York City, July 10, 1985," 1985

In Basquiat x Warhol, Fondation Louis Vuitton Champions the Power of Friendship

Today in Paris, “Basquiat x Warhol: Painting 4 Hands ” opens at Fondation Louis Vuitton. It is the most comprehensive exhibition to date of the extraordinary friendship and collaboration between iconic contemporary artists Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988) and Andy Warhol (1928-1987). 

Following its sweeping “Jean-Michel Basquiat” presentation in 2018, the Fondation further examines Basquiat’s oeuvre through the lens of his inspired partnership with Warhol. On view through August 28, the must-see show is curated by Anna Karina Hofbauer and Dieter Buchhart, alongside Olivier Michelon, curator of the Fondation. Over 80 collaborative paintings and individual artworks are displayed, in addition to pieces by fellow creative legends of 1980s New York: Jenny Holzer, Francesco Clemente, Futura 2000, Kenny Scharf, and Keith Haring. The bountiful presentation is rounded out by compelling photography, unveiling further the nuanced human beings behind some of the most renowned artwork of the 21st century. 

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol,

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol, “OP OP,” 1984-1985, 287 × 417 cm, acrylic and oilstick on canvas; © The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc., courtesy of Bischofberger Collection, Männedorf-Zurich, Switzerland.

The spirited journey begins in Gallery 1 with Arm and Hammer II (1984-1985), a fusion of Basquiat and Warhol’s creativity, featuring bold cultural iconography alongside a distinct homage to jazz legend Charlie Parker. Within the gallery, reciprocal portraits between the artists are on display. Dos Cabezas, created by Basquisat in 1982, is an expressive double portrait, following his first dynamic meeting with Warhol. 

“Andy would start one (painting) and put something very recognizable on it, or a product logo, and I would sort of deface it,” stated Basquiat. “Then I would try to get him to work some more on it, I would try to get him to do at least two things.” Warhol added, “I drew it first and then I painted it like Jean-Michel. I think those paintings we’re doing together are better when you can’t tell who did which parts.” The vivid exchange continues with energetic works like Premonition (1984) and Horizontal Painting (1984), made up of writing and collages by Basquiat, silkscreens by Warhol, and paintings by Clemente. 

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol, “Arm and Hammer II,” 1984-1985, 193 x 285 cm, acrylic and oilstick on canvas; © The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc., courtesy of Bischofberger Collection, Männedorf-Zurich, Switzerland.

Within Gallery 2, the partnership between Basquiat and Warhol intensifies. Olympic Rings (1984) was created following the Los Angeles Summer Games, featuring painting by Warhol and the meaningful addition of a prominent black figure at the heart of the project by Basquiat. Series of works, such as those which critically focus on the logo of cinematic figurehead Paramount Pictures, juxtapose the artists’s allusions to leading cultural figures with poignant signs and symbols, producing a complex meditation and dialogue on history, modernity, and the poetics of humanity. Gallery 4 offers large-scale works, still lifes, and the well-known African Masks, which were first presented at MoMA in the 1984-85 show, “Primitivism” in 20th Century Art: Affinity of the Tribal and the Modern.”

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol,

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol, “Collaboration No. 19,” 1984-1985, 169 x 309 cm, oilstick, collage, silkscreen ink, and synthetic polymer paint on canvas; © The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc., courtesy of Zidoun-Bossuyt Gallery, Luxembourg.

Gallery 6 onward pays respect to the artists alongside fellow key players of New York’s art landscape and the tumultuous 1980s, in which the AIDS crisis and issues of racism persisted. That includes Basquiat and Warhol’s multifaceted Ten Punching Bags (Last Supper) (1985)—considered to be an homage to the murder of Basquiat’s close friend, graffiti artist Michael Stewart, Taxi, 45th/Broadway (1984-5)—evoking Basquiat’s searing experience being refused a taxi ride, and the neo-expressionist Gravestone (1987) dedicated to Basquait’s monumental grief over Warhol’s death. 

Haring stated in 1988, the year of Basquiat’s death, “For me, the paintings which resulted from this collaboration are the perfect testimony to the depth and importance of their friendship. The quality of the paintings mirrors the quality of the relationship. The sense of humor that permeates all of the works recalls the laughter that surrounded them while they were being made. They are truly an invention of what William S. Burroughs called “The Third Mind”—two amazing minds fusing to create a third, totally separate, and unique mind.”

Michael Halsband, 'Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat #1 New York City, July 10, 1985,

Michael Halsband, “Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat #1 New York City, July 10, 1985,” 1985, 152.4 × 121.92 cm, Gelatin silver print; © Michael Halsband, courtesy of the artist.

Additional programming surrounding the exhibition includes “Basquiat Soundtracks.” Presented by The Musée de la Musique of the Philharmonie de Paris, the special event offers guests an array of joyful concerts and unveils never-before-released audio-visual artifacts. A hypnotic, organic score by sound designer Nicolas Becker in collaboration with curator Vincent Bessières testifies to the inspired life and career of the divine artist. 

Andy Warhol,

Andy Warhol, “Portrait of Jean-Michel Basquiat as David,” 1984, 228.6 x 176.5 cm, synthetic polymer and silkscreen ink on canvas; © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc., courtesy of the Collection of Norman and Irma Braman.

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THE WINTER EXPERIENCE ISSUE
2023

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