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Basquiat: Young King Exhibition at Sotheby's LA | Exploring Jean-Michel Basquiat's Legacy

February 15–March 17 2023 | Los Angeles


This weekend, Sotheby’s Los Angeles opened, Basquiat: Young King, featuring the work of the renowned artist, Jean-Michel Basquiat. The exhibition, which runs from February 15 to March 17, 2023, showcases some of the most significant paintings of Basquiat's career and was opened during LA Frieze week. Curator, Rudi Fuchs, chose the theme, “A New Yorker Takes on Fame and Stardom”, to present Basquiat’s perspectives on fame, particularly his reflections on stardom, and to reveal a period of Basquiat's artistic career.


From the start of his career, Basquiat’s period in Los Angeles, was known to be the most pivotal in his career, especially because it gave him the freedom to pursue his mission without distraction.


Untitled, 1983. acrylic and Oilstick on canvas, (244 by 191 cm.) By Jean-Michel Basquiat | Courtesy of Sothebys


The artist completed a robust body of work for a solo exhibition in March 1983, including Zingest, which is currently on display in the exhibition. These works not only express Basquiat’s dialogue with fame and stardom, referencing famous boxers, musicians, and Hollywood films,but it also allowed him to develop the themes and iconography that would become hallmarks of his unique pictorial language.


“Basquiat: Young King” exhibition showcases the legacy of Jean-Michel Basquiat, who although only painted for about eight years, became one of the most influential and internationally renowned artists of the late 20th century. Basquiat drew from an endless stream of sources spanning history and mythology, high art, and popular culture, as seen in the painting Untitled (Bracco di Ferro), 1981. Basquiat studied the medical reference book, Grey’s Anatomy, voraciously and applied many of the anatomical diagrams to memory. The art historian, Fred Hoffman, wrote that Basquiat “identified a kindred spirit able to transform scientific truth into artistic vision” in Leonardo da Vinci's Study of Arms and other anatomical sketches. Language and text were also key to unlocking the meaning of Basquiat’s imagery, as shown in Leverage, 1985. The painting features text collaged onto the canvas, adding layers of meaning to his works.



Installation shot of Basquiat: Young King exhibition

Source: Sothebys

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Basquiat: Young King Exhibition at Sotheby's LA | Exploring Jean-Michel Basquiat's Legacy

February 1, 2023

Sunshine Alaibe

2 min read