A Never-Before-Seen Collection of Basquiat Art to Hit Miami Art Basel

A Never-Before-Seen Collection of Basquiat Art to Hit Miami Art Basel

His collection of works from 1979-1981 had only previously been seen by a select few.

His collection of works from 1979-1981 had only previously been seen by a select few.

Text: Mariana Fernandez

Following a currently ongoing exhibition at the Perez Art Museum in Miami, never-before-seen works by the anti-establishment artist Jean-Michele Basquiat will be exhibited in the Nobu Hotel on Miami Beach as part of Art Basel Miami.

Basquiat made the series of paintings, collages, and drawings from 1979 to 1981 in the New York apartment of his friend Lonny Lichtenberg. According to X Contemporary, the works were sold directly from Lichtenberg’s apartment to Al Diaz and have only been seen by a handful of people. Now, Brooklyn’s Bishop Gallery, one of X Contemporary’s Basel exhibitors, will show them to the public for the first time next month.

Al Diaz, the collection’s curator, was Basquiat’s partner on the infamous SAMO© graffiti that appeared all over downtown Manhattan in the late '70s. The concept of SAMO© (“Same old shit”) was born out of a satirical article Basquiat penned for his high school newspaper as a “fills all the needs” religion intended to draw a critique on socio-political failings. The boroughs that housed the coolest of Manhattan’s socialites, artists, musicians, and club rats were splattered with statements reading:

“SAMO©… as an end 2 mass produced individuality & media controlled fads…”

“SAMO© as an end to mindwash religion, nowhere politics and bogus philosophy.”

“SAMO© as an alternative 2 playing art with the ‘radical chic’ sect on Daddy’s $ funds.”

But Basquiat was anything but a graffiti artist. After the SAMO© collaboration came to an end, he went on to create the highly intimate and passionate ‘cartoon’ drawings that established him as a key figure in New York's underground art scene, and, more widely, the international neo-expressionist movement. Drawing equally from the African and Puerto Rican influences of his mother as from interactions with friends, lovers, acquaintances, things he saw on television or heard on the street, Basquiat’s paintings manage to be highly personal whilst also juxtaposing wider racial and economic inequalities.

“I am not a black artist,” he said. “I am an artist.”

The exhibit will be showcased from November 30 to December 4 at Miami Beach's Nobu Hotel.

Credits: Image via New York Daily News.

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