Jean Michael Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks

Before visiting this exhibition at the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) I didn’t know much about this artist and that’s why I would like to share that with you. The PAMM in Miami is my other favorite place here in Florida. It is a contemporary art museum finished in 2013 and designed by Herzog & de Meuron, two Swiss architects. It is located in a museum park where it shares the place with the Patricia and Philipp Frost Museum of Science (which is currently under construction). The local climate and architecture inspired the design and structure of the PAMM. It’s a three story building with many windows, and the park wraps around the museum’s terrace providing shade for visitors. It is a great place to spend time and enjoy the atmosphere close to downtown and the port of Miami.

But let’s go back to the exhibition about Basquiat. Jean Michael Basquiat (1960-1988) was an American artist who grew up in Brooklyn, New York. His body of work is a little bit difficult to characterize or stylize. It ranges from Neoimpressionism to African Genre Art and some works close to Pop Art. He worked with many materials and techniques, and painted and drew on whatever he found. He also used words in his artworks, so called “facts.” But let’s make this clearer by looking at the exhibition.
Basquiat used his notebooks during the 1980’s to write about life in New York by using descriptive texts, poems and notations. The exhibition shows eight notebooks (1980-1987) and a few related drawings, paintings and collages. With childlike images he worked on subjects like racism, capitalism, and social and economic injustice. When Basquiat was six years old he was hit by a car and while he was recovering from the operation (splenectomy) his mum gave him a copy of Gray’s Anatomy, the medical textbook. So why am I telling you this? Because in his late work he used motifs of feet, the human body and words laid over images, just like medical diagrams. The exhibition tries to provide the context to major works and new perspectives on the artist through his notebooks. There he left the reverse side of each page blank, which allows the pages to function independently. Basquiat also worked with strong colors which show the influence of Pop Art and the everyday life. He collaborated with Andy Warhol on one work of art that you can see in the exhibition.img-20160919-wa0078

The curator of this exhibition did really very well. He explained all the different aspects from Basquiat’s artworks which makes it easier to understand this mostly complex art. He shows the notebooks and the drawings related to it. Also knowing that Basquiat spoke English, Spanish and French because of his parents (his mother was from Puerto Rico and his dad from Haiti) is giving you the context to understand the artworks better. I really enjoyed walking through the rooms and I can highly recommend it to you!


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