Boom For Real

A new ex­hi­bi­tion in Lon­don of­fers a look at the work of a cool young artist.

The Week - Junior - - This Week’s Big Exhibition -

In the 1980s, New York, US, was a very dif­fer­ent city to what it is today. Down­town Man­hat­tan, the heart of the city, was a rough-and-ready place. In the 1970s and 1980s, rogues mixed with cre­atives, and artists worked freely, turn­ing their hand to what­ever they liked and cre­at­ing brand-new art forms. These were the first days of hip-hop and graf­fiti – days when paint­ing and mu­sic col­lided in a whirl­wind of colour and beats.

Into this in­cred­i­ble en­vi­ron­ment strode a young artist called Jean-Michel Basquiat. His work was in­stantly recog­nis­able, and the peo­ple around him soon recog­nised his talent. At the be­gin­ning of his ca­reer, he used the streets as his can­vas; he and his friend sprayed graf­fiti on the walls of the city, writ­ing mys­te­ri­ous, po­etic slo­gans for the peo­ple of New York to think about.

Basquiat started a band, and quickly be­gan paint­ing – bonkers, colour­ful pic­tures full of strange im­ages: skele­tons and crowns, sax­o­phones and box­ers.

These paint­ings are the sub­ject of a new ex­hi­bi­tion of his work at the Bar­bican Cen­tre in Lon­don. Boom For Real, named af­ter one of his catch­phrases, takes us all the way through his short but mag­nif­i­cent ca­reer (he passed away at the age of 27). The largest col­lec­tion of his paint­ings ever as­sem­bled in the UK, this ex­hi­bi­tion of Basquiat’s work is like noth­ing else. A book­let full of ac­tiv­i­ties for younger visi­tors has been de­signed to guide you through the unique and vivid scrib­bles that of­fer a snap­shot into the ideas that whizzed around in his mind.

For more in­for­ma­tion, check out

Un­der-14s go free.

An un­ti­tled Basquiat paint­ing

from 1982.

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