“Jean-Michel Basquiat: King Pleasure ©,” organized by Basquiat’s sisters Jeanine and Lisane and their stepmother Nora Fitzpatrick, is like no other exhibition of Basquiat’s work. Yieldstreet is proud to be one of the sponsors of the exhibition located at 601 West 26th street in the Starrett Lehigh building. It invites the viewers to quite literally step into his world and brings a new, intimate perspective to the public’s understanding of the Brooklyn native’s short-lived yet immensely influential career. In galleries designed by knighted architect Sir David Adjaye, known for designing D.C.’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, which painstakingly recreate places that were important to Basquiat, the nearly two hundred works (most of which have never left the family) recast the artist’s narrative by highlighting his creative childhood, strong familial network, and cultural context as a Haïtian-Puerto Rican New Yorker.
The immersive exhibition begins with a map of key locations: the New York Telephone Company, where his mother Mathilde worked; the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, where his father Gerard would take him and his younger sisters on the weekend; and Annina Nosei Gallery, where he had his first solo exhibition in 1981, among many other clubs, restaurants, and art venues. Rather than academicizing, as a traditional monographic museum show would, the Basquiat sisters approach their brother’s life as insiders and confidants, offering cherished memories of a childhood spent visiting the Brooklyn Museum with their mother (an artist herself), two years spent in Puerto Rico, and abundant hijinks. Basquiat showed an interest in drawing from a very young age and was encouraged by Mathilde to copy his favorite cartoons, experiments whose charming results, including a Basquiat-ized Rocky Racoon, dot the walls of the exhibition. Nearly unchanged from childhood, Basquiat’s linework and mark-making communicate with an immediacy and consistency which speak to his paintings’ intuitive appeal and raw emotionality.
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