‘Boom For Real’ Chronicles Basquiat’s Life as a Homeless NYC Teen (Watch)

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Photo by Alexis Adler

 

Everyone knows the name Jean-Michel Basquiat. Throughout the ’70s and ’80s, he became one of the world’s most influential artists, responsible for revolutionizing the New York art scene by popularizing street art and promoting a radical, political message. But before his paintings were selling for $110,000,00 at auction, Basquiat was living as a homeless teen in the New York City neighborhood of the East Village.

A new documentary, Boom For Real, explores this pivotal time in the artist’s life that undoubtedly impacted his career. From the prevalence of drugs, crime and violence that he witnessed (in the documentary, director Sara Driver shows how his famous tag “SAMO” came from Basquiat seeing the “same ‘ol shit”), to his experiences with class struggle — these themes were at the center of the artist’s work until his untimely death in 1988. While most of the other films about the painter, like Tamra Davis’ 2010 Radiant Child documentary, touch on Basquiat’s career and the effect he’s had on modern art, Boom For Real sheds light on his life before fame, and how those experiences shaped him as an artist.

In theaters May 11. Watch the trailer, below.

 

 

Watch the Trailer for the New McQueen Documentary Premiering at TriBeCa This Weekend

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When it comes to fashion, there’s only ever been one Alexander McQueen. His edgy, avant-garde looks and radical runway presentations throughout the ’90s and early-to-mid-’00s constantly pushed boundaries and reinvented shapes, catapulting the young designer to infamy. When he took his own life in 2010 at just 40-years-old, the fashion world was devastated by losing such a genius. And McQueen, the new documentary by Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui, will finally give insight into his life.

 

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Born in London, the designer graduated from Central Saint Martins before taking over the position of head designer at Givenchy and launching his eponymous brand. By the time he was in his thirties, he had won the “British Designer of the Year” award four different times. Beyond his innovative design approach, McQueen completely redefined fashion — and the fashion show — as we’d come to understand it. Whether he was recreating a shipwreck (S/S ’03), using models in a game of human chess (S/S ’05), or programming robots to spray-paint supermodel Shalom Harlow at the end of the runway (S/S ’99), he never saw fashion as just a way to make pretty clothes (though, he designs were that, also). For Alexander McQueen, everything was art.

In the film, Bonhôte and Ettedgui capture this through archival footage, never-before-seen photographs and interviews from the designer’s closest friends and family. Premiering this weekend at the TriBeCa Film Festival, McQueen paints a powerful portrait of one of the world’s most influential artists.

Watch the trailer, below.

 

 

Photos courtesy of ‘McQueen;’ Buy tickets here.

 

alexa BlackBook: IKEA Fever

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IKEA has long been a staple for both bargain hunters and streamline-design lovers. Now, fashion kings like Virgil Abloh (just named Louis Vuitton’s new menswear designer) are repurposing the store’s iconic blue-and-yellow logo on inventive streetwear. 
 In honor of the Swedish fever, we asked three creatives for their takes on Ikea’s iconic “Frakta” bag.

 

Brooklyn garden whiz Brook Klausing recycled his “Frakta” bag as a pretty planter.

 

Brook Klausing, a garden designer and owner of Brooklyn’s Brook Landscape, elected to use his “Frakta” bag as a flower planter, putting his own spin on eco-upscaling. “We drew inspiration from fast fashion and fast furniture to create our own version: fast foliage,” he tells Alexa.

 

LA artist Neil Raitt adorned the trusty tote with his own palm print.

 

Los Angeles-based artist Neil Raitt (who points to Bob Ross’ kitschy 1980s TV program “The Joy of Painting” as an inspiration for his repetitive landscapes — on exhibit at LA’s Anat Ebgi gallery and this year’s NYC Armory Show) also took a crack at the big blue bag. He inlaid a palm-tree print, which he originally created in 2016 for an exhibition at Mon Chéri gallery in Brussels, to create a portable piece of art.

“When you look at an Ikea bag, with its blue plastic and yellow lettering, it’s immediately recognizable,” he says. “So, I wanted to bring in something equally accessible, like a palm tree.”

 

Interior designer Ryan Korban stitched a kitschy pillow — complete with Ikea trim.

 

And finally, New York-based interior designer Ryan Korban (who’s created eye-catching spaces for all manner of high-end fashion labels, including Alexander Wang’s NYC flagship and Balenciaga stores across the globe) dreamed up a DIY Ikea throw pillow. It’s the perfect spot to rest your head after putting together all that furniture.

 

Photos by Lizzy Snaps Sullivan; Tamara Beckwith; Courtesy of Neil Raitt and Anat Ebgi.

 

Lexus Debuts Their New UX Luxury Compact Crossover with Bold Art Installation in NYC

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On any given night in New York City there are probably a million events happening, only a few of which are actually cool. So, you know if we’re going to actually leave the house, it has to be worth it — and on Tuesday night, it was.

To kick off the annual New York International Auto Show, Lexus threw a banger, and debuted their new UX compact luxury crossover. And you know, because all the best parties also include a really great collab, the brand teamed up with NYC non-profit RxArt to premiere a custom urban-landscape art installation by artist Daniel Heidkamp, which will later be placed in a New York City Pediatric Cancer Center. The piece was a life-size Manhattan skyline in bold neon Pop Art colors — the perfect backdrop for Lexus’  chic new ride.

 

 

Of course, they also gave us tote bags. But don’t worry, you can get one, too — we don’t want you to feel left out. It’s not as great as the Lexus UX, which is not only the brand’s first luxury compact crossover, but also introduces an “all new platform built for exceptional handling, an ultra-efficient powertrain and innovative luxury features,” made for young, cool, city-slickers just like you. And hey, if the L train’s going to close next year, what better option is there?

The Lexus UX (in hybrid and gas models) arrives in December 2018.

Photos by Daniel Byrne

 

10 Artists You Have To See At This Year’s Armory Show

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Nam June Paik, ‘Megatron Matrix’, photo courtesy of Ryan Somma

 

The Armory is basically the Coachella of the art world – well, sans the ecstasy and the floral headbands. But anyone who’s anyone (or has ever been at some point in time) will gather at Piers 92 and 94 in Manhattan to browse New York’s largest art fair and see work from both emerging and legendary global artists.

Since that can be a bit overwhelming, we’ve done you a solid and put together a list of 10 artists you won’t want to miss at this year’s show. Trust us.

 

Douglas Coupland at Daniel Faria

 

‘Tsunami Chest,’ 2017, photo courtesy of Daniel Faria Gallery

 

Postmodern artist and fiction author Douglas Coupland is known for subverting pop culture and military imagery, in part due to his time growing up in a military family throughout the Cold War. Fascinated by Andy Warhol and the whole Pop Art movement, Coupland explores the darker side of popular culture through installation and sculpture.

Gilbert & George at Ropac

 

‘Beardache,’ 2016, photo courtesy of the artist

 

Collaborative art duo Gilbert & George are known for their highly formalized performance art practice, as well as their, um, not so formal photography work. Their ongoing photo series, referred to as The Pictures, features large scale back-lit images of everything from skinheads to semen, and a whole lot of beards.

 

Kyle Meyer at Yossi Milo

 

From ‘Interwoven,’ 2017, photo courtesy of the artist

 

Kyle Meyer is a photographer, sculptor and mixed media artist who uses digital photography and a variety of handmade techniques, such as weaving, to explore connectivity in the digital age. For his series, Interwoven, Meyer hand-wove over photographs to celebrate flamboyance, homosexuality and femme-identifying men in a hyper-masculine culture.

 

Cammie Staros at Shulamit Nazarian

 

‘All Quiver and Shake,’ 2017, photo courtesy of the artist

 

Sculptor Camme Staros creates handmade objects that juxtapose modernism with antiquity and craft. Joining traditional materials like clay and ceramics with modern details like neon and steel, Staros examines the “semiotic systems” that have been “created and reinforced throughout art history.”

 

Etel Adnan at Gallery Continua

 

‘Five Senses for One Death,’ 1969, photo courtesy of the artist

 

Lebanese-American poet, writer and painter Etel Adnan crafts abstract oil paintings and landscapes inspired by Japanese leporellos that extend into space “like free-hand drawings.” In 2014, Adnan’s work was also included in the Whitney Biennial.

 

Nam June Paik at Gagosian

 

‘Lion,’ 2005, photo courtesy of Gagosian

 

Probably the most exciting artist on this list (at least for us), Nam June Paik is credited with being the founder of video art. Born in Seoul, South Korea, Paik began his career as a musician as part of the Fluxus movement in 1960. After moving to New York in 1964, he began experimenting with film, combining his musical works with video sculptures constructed of wire and metal. Before his death in 2006, Paik was known as an early adopter of technology, including his famous robots built of out multiple computers. In fact, he’s also credited with using the term “electronic super highway” as early as 1974. Damn.

 

Alicja Kwade at i8 Gallery

 

‘Computer (Power Mac),’ 2017, photo courtesy of i8 Gallery

 

Polish artist Alicja Kwade works in sculpture, installation, photography and film. Throughout all of her work, however, she likes to play with value systems, transforming useless materials like wood or glass into high value pieces of art.

 

Jinshi Zhu at Pearl Lam

 

‘A Tiger Shaped Tally,’ 2016, photo courtesy of Pearl Lam Gallery

 

Painter Jinshi Zhu creates abstract oil paintings focused on texture, through endless layers of color and paint. Inspired by the German Expressionist movement and their unconventional techniques, Zhu often creates these layers using a spatula or shovel.

 

The Haas Brothers at R & Company

 

‘Socrata Floor Lamps and Furries’, photo courtesy of the artists

 

Twins Nikolai and Simon Haas have worked in pretty much every medium, from music and film to installation and visual art. Now focused mostly on their sculpture and installation work, The Haas Brothers highlight themes including sexuality, science fiction, psychedelia and politics.

Jeffrey Gibson at Roberts Projects

 

‘Power Power Power,’ 2017, photo courtesy of Roberts Projects

 

Artist Jeffrey Gibson relates his experience as a Native American growing up in a Western culture into large scale paintings and woven sculpture. Also inspired by dance and movement, from pow-wows to nightclubs and the work of Leigh Bowery, Gibson examines nostalgia, heritage and pre-colonized Native American life.

 

Oh, and if looking at all this great art makes you hungry, check out our guide to The Armory’s pop-up restaurants.

 

Art Troupe WIFE Brings Spellbinding Performance To LA’s Hammer Museum

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Step inside the world of WIFE and witness a mystical phenomena. Born of three Los Angeles-based dancers, (Jasmine Albuquerque, Kristen Leahy, and Nina McNeely), she is known as A Trinity of Illusory Performance Makers.

WIFE creates an all senses engaged theatrical experience. If you have seen her live you know it’s a full body—and out of body—experience. Through projected body-mapping animations, sculpture, light, self-crafted music, costumes and choreography, WIFE makes the imaginary a reality. Although, when you’re in her performance presence it feels more like a fleeting moment of surreality—an electric alternate reality you want to stay suspended in.


 

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On Wednesday, June 22, WIFE (represented by Maavven) brings her latest creation, Enter The Cave, to Hammer Museum in LA. Loosely based on Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, Enter the Cave is a story of transformation and transcendence told through illusion. The performance is meant to rearrange our notions of reality, space, and time.

The free performance begins in the Hammer Museum Courtyard at 7:30PM PST and can be live streamed, here.

Elton John To Auction Off Rare Warhol, Basquiat Collaboration

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Photo via Sotheby’s

After a chance meeting in a New York cafe in 1980, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol went on to conspire on several significant works, until the latter’s untimely death in 1987. One such painting, simply Untitled, will go on the block at the Sotheby’s Paris French Evening sale on June 7.

The current owner of the rather poignantly foreboding artwork (Jean-Michel himself died in 1988), a 1984-1985 acrylic, silkscreen and oil on canvas, signed by both artists on the overlap, is Sir Elton John, along with husband David Furnish. Described as a memento mori—meaning, a cultural reminder of mortality and death’s inevitability—it strikingly exhibits the artistic/psychological frisson and tension that existed between Warhol and Basquiat.

It is expected to fetch upwards of $1,000,000, and the proceeds will likely go to one of the singer’s charitable concerns. Indeed, he and Sotheby’s have a collaborative history of selling off pieces to benefit the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

 

Shia LaBeouf is Hitchhiking Across the World (Because Art)

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Photo via Twitter

Throughout May, Shia LaBeouf’s been regularly posting strange coordinates onto his Twitter, only recently providing clarity about his latest artistic endeavor. Along with creative collaborators Nastja Rönkkö and Luke Turner, LaBeouf has embarked on a project called, #TAKEMEANYWHERE, which sees the trio hitchhiking across the world and sharing their locations to followers online.

“From 23 May until 23 June 2016, you are invited to pick up the artists whenever their coordinates above are posted and take them anywhere,” the project’s site explains.

The group, whose journey first began in Boulder, Colorado, can be traced real-time through VICE, and once their hitchhiking adventures close, LaBeouf and his comrades will release a short film highlighting their experience for display at London’s Finnish Institute and the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art.

Etnia Barcelona Releases New Basquiat-Inspired Sunglasses

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Basquiat’s work was iconic, imbued with a level of unabashed emotion and power that street art hadn’t seen when he first began wreaking havoc on New York in the ’80s. By addressing charged themes like racism, politics and hypocrisy, the young painter gave new depth to graffiti art and infiltrated the world of high-brow aficionados with a personal, outsider approach.

Designer eyewear brand Etnia Barcelona has tapped into this narrative, creating a capsule collection of sunglasses that incorporate Basquiat-inspired motifs through smart, subtle details. An homage to the late visionary, this exclusive release follows the brand’s mission to develop authentic accessories with an eye for key cultural movements in art and photography.

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Four different sunglasses will be available worldwide with patterns based on three original works by Basquiat. Though each individual piece is unique, Etnia Barcelona’s designed the eyewear with three vertices to resemble those hand-drawn, three-point crowns that we’ve grown to associate with Basquiat’s legacy.

A true fusion of substance and style, Etnia Barcelona’s forthcoming capsule sees the release of a fashion film, as well, featuring rapper Oddisee and graphic artist Elle—two contemporary figures who’ve both kept Basquiat’s rebellious energy alive today. Watch, below: