Saving Basquiat: Seeing the Art Through the Myth-Making at Gagosian
April 5, 2013 8:45 AM   Subscribe

Saving Basquiat: Seeing the Art Through the Myth-Making at Gagosian The show is overwhelming and difficult to write about, partly because there doesn’t seem to be any idea behind it at all; the works are hung neither by chronology nor by theme. They are merely a spectacularly impressive collection of largish Basquiats from a number of private collections. In this way, the show replicates the tragedy of this artist’s short and chaotic life, where the feverish buzz of celebrity came to overpower any assessment of the works as individual objects.
posted by R. Mutt (2 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I think one of the problems was that Basquit was really smart about playing the myth game, while working against it, so you are never quite sure which game is being played. That being young, sexy and dead, means that commercial instincts are going to win out, meaning we aren't really thinking about the implications of the work. In my least generous days, I agree with Hughes: but his text work and some of his skulls make me reconsider a bit.

Even the Brooklyn Museum retrospective a few years ago bought seriously into the hype. In this sense Gagosian is continuing the tradition of his representation. It's not even like Haring, who became unfashionable for a few years which allowed for a real critical reapparsial, or Gonzales-Torres, who was always more of an academian than Basquait.

Considering the recent problems with Gagosian, and artists leaving, and his empire to prop up, I figure that he figures dead artists are less unruly than live ones. (That said, he has done some really fascainting, really important historical re-evautions, his recent show of Rauschenberg's fabric work from teh early 70s this year, was super tight)
posted by PinkMoose at 9:26 AM on April 5, 2013 [4 favorites]

This 2009 Artforum article by Lorraine O'Grady is, I find, a fitting complement to the interesting FPP'd article.
I had a visceral, juvenile reaction to Basquiat back then in NY; I continue to find his art and story variously nourishing. Thanks for the post.
posted by progosk at 12:55 PM on April 5, 2013

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