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 NYC’s East Village.
A new documentary, Boom For Real, explores this pivotal time in the artist’s life, which undoubtedly impacted his work and 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 contemporary art, Boom For Real sheds light on his life before fame, and how those experiences shaped him as an artist.
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 ParisFrench 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.
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.
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:
● T.I. was released from jail a little early yesterday, which means he also got to start filming his post-prison reality show for VH1 a little early. [TMZ] ● Rihanna bought a house for $7 millions dollars, but it’s leaky so now she doesn’t want it and is suing the real estate company. [Huff Post] ● Probably because someone knew it would be funny, Kim Kardashian’s new beau, Kris Humphries, was seated on a plane next to Kim Kardashian’s sex-tape beau, Ray J. How awkward! [Page Six]
● Rappers love themselves some Basquiat. [NYT] ● Beyoncé’s baby is already making her money: 4 sprung right back into the iTunes top ten after her so-sweet Sunday night announcement. [RS] ● David Lynch’s new Paris night club, Club Silencio, looks a lot like other night clubs, except it’s probably weirder because the odd-ball director got the final say on everything, meaning even the nuts are salted exactly to his pleasing, and his pleasing alone. [Guardian]
● Art history from DaVinci, Vermeer, Mondrian, Kahlo to Warhol gets recreated in this video from Hold Your Horses. [EW] ● How to apply Michael Pollan’s food rules–“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly vegetables”—to drinking. [Flavorwire] ● Yemen is running out of water, because it’s showering it all on qat, a narcotic plant. [Guardian] ● Johnny Weir and Larry King discuss “fierceness.” [Daily Intel] ● Watch the trailer for the documentary on Basquiat, Jean Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child. [Animal]
● Everything you ever wanted to know about pubic hair that you didn’t even think to ask. [Scientific American] ● Beer flavored like milk, bananas, crème brule and 12 other strange tastes. [Red Eye] ● Hand models: You know their hands, now see their faces. [Big Money] ● Next time you’re watching something and wonder “who’s that guy>” here’s a That Guy! website to help. [Vulture]