The work of two great artists, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol, merged between the years 1984 and ’85, in the New York at the height of artistic and creative ferment. It seems that the two met by chance, in a restaurant in Soho, where Basquiat was selling postcards, on which he worked personally, in order to earn a living. Warhol buys some postcards and some time later introduces the young artist to prominent people and places in the art world of the time. In addition to their friendship, a true artistic partnership blossoms between the two, which soon develops into a series of fascinating and extraordinary works created in a four-handed collaboration. This creative dialogue brings them to the highest point of their careers, and certainly most interesting on an artistic-visual level, but at the same time also to the crisis of their friendship. Surrounding this relationship is a historical, social and cultural context that undoubtedly also takes root in their works and influences their personal visions of art.
«Andy would start a painting and put something very recognizable or a product logo on it, and I would deface it. So I would try to convince him to work on it some more.»
The Fondation Louis Vuitton decides to retrace this slice of history by opening to visitors a collection of 100 paintings signed by the shared work of Basquiat and Warhol curated by Dieter Buchhart and Anna Karina Hofbauer, in collaboration with Olivier Michelon. Keith Haring, a friend of both and a great connoisseur of the incredible relationship born, describes their conversation as a flow of images and paintings, rather than words, of two creative minds that together managed to create “a distinct and unique third mind”. The exhibition opens with a series of reciprocal portraits, Basquiat as seen by Warhol, and Warhol as seen by Basquiat, and continues with early collaborations that later became a daily, relentless, and energetic partnership. The enthusiasm, complicity and harmony between the two artists appears absolutely authentic in the works, the colors are bright and vivid, every detail is executed to perfection, in a careful and meticulous approach. The exchange of thoughts, points of view, and practical aspects of the craft gives the work great strength, coming out in all its totality and grandeur. From day one, Basquiat admires the character and work of Warhol, as a key figure in his creative growth process, and as the true pioneer of a new and disruptive artistic language. This continuous dialogue of different styles, forms and colors brings to the stage a narrative full of enthusiasm and conviction.
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«I think these paintings we’re doing together are better when you can’t recognize who did what parts.»