Boy Wonder

The long-awaited Jean Michel-Basquiat retrospective finally hits London's Barbican Gallery today..Get set (and don't forget to book your tickets) for what's shaping up to be the exhibition of the year…

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Jean-Michel Basquiat A Panel of Experts, 1982 Courtesy The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. © The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York. Photo: MFA, Douglas M. Parker

Basquiat: Boom for Real is the first large-scale exhibition in the UK of Jean-Michel Basquiat featuring more than 100 of the cult artist's works. Many of Basquiat's pieces have never been seen before in the UK – none of his paintings are held in the collections of any major UK galleries or museums. Despite having no formal training, Basquiat burst onto downtown New York's underground art scene in the late 1970s, and by 1982, he had gained international recognition and became the youngest ever artist to participate in Documenta 7 in Kassel.

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Jean-Michel Basquiat Untitled, 1982 Courtesy Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam. © The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York. Photo: Studio Tromp, Rotterdam

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Jean-Michel Basquiat and Jennifer Stein Anti-Baseball Card Product, 1979 Courtesy Jennifer Von Holstein. © Jennifer Von Holstein and The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York.

From its street art and graffiti roots, Basquiat's work encompassed music, performance and film, and the exhibition also includes rare film, photography, music and archival material from the time. Running alongside the exhibition is The Grime and the Glamour NYC 1976-1990, a fascinating collection of films which looks back ‘at the scuzzy and blisteringly creative streets of the late 1970s and 80s New York City, as seen on the big screen’. There's a chance to see some corkers, from graffiti classic Wildstyle to Madonna'sfinest hour in Desperately Seeking Susan, plus a triple bill of films about the legendary New York punk club CBGBs.

In keeping with the spirit of the exhibition, there's also a raft of events including theatre, performance and music throughout the show, plus an evening talk about the origins of style at the Ace Hotel in Shoreditch. And while you're there, don't forget to grab a catalogue (designed by APFEL) and to check out Banksy's nod to Basquiat on the wall outside.

Find out more and book your tickets here.


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Jean-Michel Basquiat Glenn, 1984 Private collection. © The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York.

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Jean-Michel Basquiat Hollywood Africans, 1983 Courtesy Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. © The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat/ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ ADAGP, Paris. Licensed by Artestar, New York.

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Rammellzee vs. K-Rob, produced and with cover artwork by Jean-Michel Basquiat ‘Beat Bop’ vinyl record, 1983 Courtesy Jennifer Von Holstein. © The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York. Photo: Justin Piperger

BASQUIAT: Boom For Real
21 September 2017 – 28 January 2018
Barbican Art Gallery, London 

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Jean-Michel Basquiat dancing at the Mudd Club, 1979. © Nicholas Taylor