Jean-Michel Basquiat is one of the few artists who have achieved mythic status. His work is instantly recognizable; like Picasso, Warhol or Frida Kahlo, his look is imprinted on our psyche. But how much do we really know Basquiat? Who was he, where did he come from, where did he hang out? Desperately Seeking Basquiat lets readers explore the most significant locations of his life. We learn that he wasn’t from the ghetto, but from the respectable, professional middle class Park Slope neighborhood in Brooklyn. He spent time in his mother’s native Puerto Rico as a child. He went to a private school for a few years. And then, yes, he ran away from home and lived with the junkies sleeping rough in Washington Square Park.
On the way there are the amazing cast of characters and lovers that came in and out of Basquiat’s life – not just Warhol, but Debby Harry, Madonna, William Burroughs, Versace, Francesco Clemente and Keith Haring. And in the midst of all this the art dealers, impressarios and galleries that knew how to take Basquiat’s talent and turn it fast into millions of dollars. We discover some unexpected places: Basquiat spent time in Modena, Italy, and a lot of time in Zurich and loved detox trips to the Far East and Hawaii; this is far from just a New York story. Later on he travelled to Abidjan in Cote d’Ivoire, in search of a new direction.
Full of fascinating locations and scene photos from the heady late ‘70s and ‘80s NYC, and as with the other titles in the series, Desperately Seeking Basquiat also features great maps, short punchy texts and insightful quotes from Basquiat’s contemporaries. For anyone into Basquiat, this delicious volume, with its cute format, really packs a punch. For anyone wanting to know more, much more, about the man behind some of the coolest, most iconic art of the 20th Century, it’s indispensable.
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