Friday, May 20, 2016

A peek inside the notebooks of Jean-Michel Basquiat

Jean-Michel Basquiat has kept a stash of notebooks that is housed at Atlanta's High Museum of Art. Dismantled journals with handwritten texts and sketches accompanied by paintings, drawings and mixed-media works line the perimeter of the space. Produced between 1980 and 1987, the documents reveal how the self taught, Brooklyn-born artist began to develop the creative techniques that would inspire his monumental pieces. 

"The notebook writings range from extended narrative poems and wordplay to observations of New York's street life, along with lists of celebrities and incidental notes from the artist's personal life. As in his paintings, fragments of found texts appear throughout the notebooks, incorporating street signage, news stories, and references from literature and the Old Testament. Other pages reflect Basquiat's overriding interest in highlighting racial discrimination and acknowledging the important contributions of African Americans and other people of color, as well as his interests in music, world history and popular culture."

Basquiat was one of the most iconic artists of his generation. An untitled painting, which portrays him as a fiery, demonic figure, recently sold for $57.3 million at a Christie's auction in New York. Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks runs at the High through Sunday, May 29.

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