A novel perspective on Basquiat’s artistic and musical career
Music holds a prominent place in Jean-Michel Basquiat’s painterly practice in the form of sign, symbol and sound. His oeuvre is replete with depictions of musical instruments alongside references to opera, classical music, jazz, bebop, hip-hop and rap. Presenting some 100 works by the artist together with numerous sound clips, film footage and archival documents, the exhibition provides an innovative in-depth look at Basquiat’s career as a musician, the sounds that accompanied his mark-making and the musicians who inspired him, from Beethoven to the New York underground scene of the 1970s and 1980s and, notably, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis and Maria Callas.
Beginning with an exploration of the music that shaped Basquiat’s New York, the exhibition sheds new light on his career as a performer and musician, notably with the band Gray. It also looks at his painting compositional techniques as they relate to music, and references his ties to particular record labels, musicians, cultures and sounds.
Credits and curatorial team
An exhibition organized by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Cité de la musique – Philharmonie de Paris. The exhibition is curated by Mary-Dailey Desmarais, Chief Curator, MMFA, Dieter Buchhart, guest curator and Vincent Bessières, guest curator for the Musée de la Musique – Philharmonie de Paris.
Images © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York
Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988), Anybody Speaking Words, 1982, acrylic and pastel on canvas, 243.8 x 156.2 cm. Private collection, Switzerland. © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York
Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988), A Panel of Experts, 1982, acrylic and oil pastel on paper mounted on canvas, 152.5 x 152 x 4.5 cm. MMFA, gift of Ira Young. © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York. Photo Douglas M. Parker