The Unknown Notebooks, 2015


Pages: 246
Format: Hardcover
Trim Size: 9-1/2 x 11-1/2
Edited by: Dieter Buchhart and Tricia Laughlin Bloom
Contribution by: Franklin Sirmans and Christopher Stackhouse, Foreword by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Publisher: Skira Rizzoli



€49.95




The Unknown Notebooks, 2015

Accompanying a major traveling exhibition, this first-ever survey of the rarely seen notebooks of Basquiat features the artist’s handwritten notes, poems, and drawings, along with related works on paper and large-scale paintings. With no formal training, Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960–1988) succeeded in developing a new and expressive style to become one of the most influential artists in the postmodern revival of figurative during the 1980s.

In a series of notebooks from the early to mid-1980s, never before exhibited, Basquiat combined text and images reflecting his engagement with the countercultures of graffiti and hip-hop in New York City, as well as pop culture and world events. Filled with handwritten texts, poems, pictograms, and drawings, many of them iconic images that recur throughout his artwork—teepees, crowns, skeleton-like silhouettes, and grimacing masks—and these notebooks reveal much about the artist’s creative process and the importance of the written word in his aesthetic.

With over 150 notebook pages and numerous drawings and paintings, this important book sheds new light on Basquiat’s career and his critical place in contemporary art history.

About The Authors:

Dieter Buchhart is a critic, art historian, and curator based in Vienna. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University, where he directs the W. E. B. Du Bois Research Institute and the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research. Tricia Laughlin Bloom is associate curator of exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum, New York. Franklin Sirmans is department head and curator of contemporary art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Christopher Stackhouse is a writer and visual artist based in Brooklyn.

Jean-Michel Basquiat - SAMO

Jean-Michel Basquiat, an American with a Haitian father, gained recognition as an artist in the 1980s. His rise to prominence was swift but his career was cut short.

Between 1977 and 1980 he was a graffiti artist, tagging his mysterious, subversive messages with the name SAMO©. By 1980 he was frequenting artists such as Andy Warhol, Keith Haring and Francesco Clemente, and abandoned graffiti for painting. Buoyed by the energy of hip hop with its sampling, scratching and DJ culture, his practice drew on many influences such as Picasso, Penck, Schwitters, Dubuffet as well as Cobra movement, jazz and voodoo. His frame of reference expanded to include history and global literature, from Homer to Napoleon and Malcolm X. His style was characterised by a bold and sparing colour palette, and the use of symbols such as the crown and skull, as well as numbers and scientific formulas. Like palimpsests, his works feature layers of drawing, scratches, painting, collages of photocopies and objects. The chaotic complexity of his compositions reveals a spontaneous exuberance and a mastery of different materials and techniques, from acrylic to screen-printing, markers to sprays.

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