Basquiat: Boom for Real at The Barbican

Although Basquiat passed away before most GUAP readers were born, he is still as relevant to today’s culture as he was to New York in the 80s.

Currently on display at the Barbican Art Gallery, Boom for Real is the first large scale exhibition in the UK showcasing the American artist, Jean-Michel Basquiat. The exhibition brings together a collection of more than 100 works, many of which have never been seen in the UK. His work offers insights into his wide range of interests and his experience as a young black artist with no formal training.

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


Boom for Real focuses on Basquiat‘s relationship to music, writing, performance, film and television of the time.

“We are delighted to be working with the Barbican on this important exhibition, which is so long overdue” – Lisane and Jeanine Basquiat

You can see paintings, drawings, notebooks and objects alongside rare film, photography, music and archival material from 80s New York.

Basquiat was first noticed for his graffiti across New York under the name SAMO© (‘same old, same old shit’) with his classmate of the time, Al Diaz. This was then followed by drawings made from his own blood, collages of baseball cards and postcards, painting on clothing and improvised canvases.

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© Edo Bertoglio, courtesy of Maripol. Artwork: © The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York

Later, he collaborated with other artists including Andy Warhol. He also created murals and installations for notorious New York nightclubs and even produced a Beat Bop record with K-Rob and Rammellzee in 1983.

Basquiat: Boom for Real, 21 September 2017 – 28 January 2018, is co-curated by Dr Dieter Buchhart and Eleanor Nairne, Curator, Barbican Art Gallery, and organised in collaboration with the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt.

The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated book published by Prestel and designed by A Practice for Everyday Life.

Find out more here.

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