Body positive coloring volume uses art to challenge weight-based stigma

Image: Brittnay Herbert/ Mashable

Ashleigh Shackelford stands with unapologetic confidence, holding up a sign declaring, “Your body is not wrong. Society is.” Her image is solely outlined by thick black lines on white paper. Her fierce gaze dares you to pick up a pencil and begin to color her in.

But coloring the image of the body positive activist entails confronting the roundness of her face and the curves of her frame. It means get comfortable with her body a body society will ceaselessly label as less-than.

As your pink pencil gently traces the curves of her skirt, you realise her body is anything but incorrect. And that revelation is exactly the point.

To honor current fat activism trailblazers like Shackelford, artist Allison Tunis created Body Love: A Fat Activism Colouring Book . The volume, published in late July, is what Tunis calls an “educational coloring book” that’s component fat activism, portion art therapy.

It features the black and white images of 23 activists who Tunis calls current “superstars” of the body positive movement and they are all individuals who influenced Tunis on her own journey to self-love.

Image: Brittany HErbert/ Mashable

Tunis was inspired to create the book in December 2015 after feeling compelled to give back to the movement that helped her love her body. She had been working on her own body positive journey for about a year prior, detecting activists who had an indelible impact on her life.

“I started thinking about what I could do to contribute to that motion, because it had induced such a difference in my life, ” she tells Mashable .

“It’s not only a soothing and relaxing meditation through the act of colour, but also a meditation on self.”

Tunis, who has degrees in fine art and art therapy, says landing on the idea of a coloring volume simply induced sense, given her background. And combating the fat-based hate in society with the healing qualities of art is something Tunis knew she could help facilitate for the community.

“The fat activism and body positivity movements are so welcoming and so inclusive that I knew if I did this project, I’d have a ready-made audience, ” she says.

Though Tunis says the act of coloring in itself is meditative and relaxing, the type of therapy encouraged by Body Love: A Fat Activism Colouring Book operates deeper.

“It forces-out you to think about the different bodies and what your relationship is with them, ” she says. “It forces you to work out your own issues with bodies. It’s not only a soothing and relaxing meditation through the act of colour, but also a meditation on self.”

But that’s not only true for people who purchase the colouring volume and started to set crayon to paper. It was also true for Tunis as the illustrator of the book. The process built her confront some of the internalized weight-based hate she had toward her own body.

“As I was depicting these scenes, I realized I was able to see all of the beauty in these people so why wasn’t I able to see it in myself? ” she says.

To create the book, Tunis worked closely with the activists featured, keeping them updated on the progress and get their input on their depictions. She also offered them 25 percent of the profits.

“I’m employing their names and their images and their reputations to sell this volume, ” she says. “They deserve acknowledgment and that means monetary recognition.”

But Tunis devoted the activists a choice. They could either take the earned 25 percentage to support their own livelihoods and run, or donate it to the Canadian Mental Health Association an organization Tunis chose because of the mental health the health effects of dealing with fat hatred and weight-based stigma. She says about half of those featured has been decided to donate their cut of the profits.

Kelvin Davis, model and men’s fashion blogger, featured in “Body Love: A Fat Activism Colouring Book.”

Image: BRITTANY HERBERT/ MASHABLE

Over the past month since the book’s release, Tunis says the ready-made audience she foresaw has pulled through, constructing the self-published volume a financial success. Some activists, like burlesque musician Noella DeVille and activist and writer Virgie Tovar, are even buying the books in bulk to sell at their own events, bringing the work to a larger audience.

But the release also pulled in another unexpected audience: children. Tunis says she’s received several notes from mothers saying they are grateful to have an alternative option to the tiny waists and unrealistic proportions that coat the pages of other coloring books.

“People have been saying that they are buying this coloring book not only for themselves, but to color in with their daughters and children, ” she says. “I genuinely think it helps spread a positive notion. You are spreading awareness that all bodies are good bodies to your children.”

“Taking the time to lovingly color images of people who definitely sounds like me is so healing…”

Substantia Jones, a fat positive photographer featured in the book, employs her own art to deconstruct how fat bodies are perceived in society, calling her work “part fat, component feminism, portion ‘fuck you.'” She describes Tunis’ coloring volume as following a similar mantra, challenging the belief of which bodies deserve to be celebrated.

“Utilizing other means of media to bring the message of body love and fat adoption to people particularly young people is nothing short of brilliant, ” Jones tells Mashable . “Wallpapering countries around the world with positive depictions of fat folks is demonstrating effective, and I’m glad to be aboard Allison Tunis’ project.”

Cynthia Ramsay Noel( left ), founder of “Flight of the Fat Girl, ” and Ashleigh Shackelford, body positive activist and writer.

Image: Brittany Herbert/ Mashable

When speaking to Mashable about the impact of the book, Tovar describes the effort as “super radical.” She says even the simple act of coloring can help to normalize a range of bodies, which was part of Tunis’ main goal.

“This coloring volume is a big deal because historically there has been almost no positive, self-directed representations of fat people in any publishing, ” Tovar says. “Coloring is a therapeutic activity that requires day and commitment. Taking the time to lovingly colouring images of people who look like me is so mending because often we are learned how to shy away from looking at our own fat bodies.”

“To every person who has ever seemed in the mirror and hated what they saw. You do not have to feel like this.”

Case analyzes conducted over the past several years found that art therapy supportings emotional well-being and lessens stress in both children and adults. Those who use art therapeutically have been found to build fewer phone calls to mental health providers and use fewer medical and mental health services.

But, even with art’s mending qualities on your side, things sometimes get tough and Tunis knows that first-hand. Even after determining body positivity, she says she still has bad days with her body image. But, she adds, the activists featured in the colouring book help her along the way.

“There’s this whole community of astonishing people who do amazing things and their bodies are a part of that, ” Tunis says. “It’s not that they are amazing in spite of their bodies. They are astounding because they are embracing their bodies. I remember there are people who love them and find them attractive. I don’t have to feel this way.”

And she echoes that notion for anyone who picks up the book through a powerful dedication that prefaces the book: “To every person who has ever appeared in the mirror and detested what they foresee. You do not have to feel like this.”

Read more:

The Jean-Michel Basquiat I knew …

The graffiti artist turned painter became the starring of the 1980 s New York art scene. Since his death aged 27, his reputation has risen. On the eve of a major UK show, we speak to his friends

It’s always seducing to mythologise the dead, especially those who die young and beautiful. And if the dead person is also astonishingly gifted, then the myth becomes inevitable. Jean-Michel Basquiat was just 27 when he died, in 1988, a strikingly gorgeous young man whose stunning, genre-wrecking run had already brought him to international attention; who had in the space of just a few years morphed from an underground graffiti artist into a painter who commanded many thousands of dollars for his canvases.

So perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised that all individuals I talk to who knew Basquiat when he was alive, from girlfriends to collectors, musicians to painters, speaks about him as special. Still, it’s noticeable that they all do. Basquiat- even before he was acknowledged as an artist- was find by his friends as exceptional.

” I knew when I satisfied him that he was beyond the normal ,” says musician and film-maker Michael Holman, who founded the noise band Gray with Basquiat.” Jean-Michel had his flaws, he was mischievous, he had certain things about him that could be called amoral, but setting that aside, he had something that I’m sure he had from the moment he was born. It was like he was born fully realised, a realised being .”

” He was a beautiful person and an amazing artist ,” says Alexis Adler, a former girlfriend.” I recognised that from the get-go. I knew he was brilliant. The only person around that time I felt the same thing about was Madonna. I totally, 100% knew they were going to be big .”

Basquiat the man and Basquiat the painter are hard to untangle. He lived hard and died harder( from an unintentional heroin overdose ), and had more of the rock-star persona than the art aesthete about him, a cool celebrity sparkle that didn’t always work in his favor. Some art connoisseurs find his work hard to take seriously; others, though, have an immediate, almost visceral response. To me, a non-art critic, his work is fantastic: it feels contemporary, with a chaotic, musical sensibility. It’s beautiful and hectic, young and old, graphic, apprehending, packed with equivocal codes; there’s a questioning of identity, especially race, and a sampling of life’s stimuli that takes in music, cartoons, commerce and institutions, as well as celebrities and art greats.( Not sex, though: though he had lots of partners, his paintings are rarely erotic .). You could stand in front of a Basquiat painting and be fascinated for hours.

Since he died, Basquiat has had a mixed reputation. There was a time in the 1990 s when he was dismissed as a lightweight. Museums repudiated him as a jumped-up wall-sprayer. But over the past few years, his superstar has been on the rise and even those who are snooty about his art can’t argue with his cultural influence. A few years ago a Christie’s spokesperson described him, pointedly, as” the most collected artist of sportsmen, performers, musicians and entrepreneurs “. As one of the few black American painters to break through into international consciousness, he is referenced a lot in hip-hop: Kanye West, Jay-Z, Swizz Beatz, Nas and others cite Basquiat in their lyrics; Jay-Z, in Most Kingz, uses the” most kings get their head cut off” phrase from Basquiat’s painting Charles the First . Jay-Z and Swizz Beatz own his runs, as do Johnny Depp, John McEnroe and Leonardo DiCaprio. Debbie Harry was the first person ever to pay for a Basquiat piece; Madonna owns his art and they dated for a couple of months in the mid-8 0s.

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Jean-Michel Basquiat’s 1982 painting Untitled( LA Painting) selling off $110.5 million( PS85m) at Sotheby’s in New York, to became the sixth most expensive work ever sold at auction. Photo: Shutterstock

A household name in the US, Basquiat is less well known in the UK, though the sale, in May, of one of his paints ( Untitled( LA Painting ), 1982) for $110.5 m( PS85m ), the highest amount ever for an American artist at auction, attained headlines. Now, Boom for Real, a vast exhibition at the Barbican- the first Basquiat show in the UK for more than 20 years- aims to open our eyes. Researched and curated for four years, it follows his career from street to gallery, acknowledges the exceptional periods he was working in, and expands its references from straightforwardly visual art to music, literature, TV and movies, all areas in which Basquiat experimented. It tries to see things from Basquiat’s point of view.

Eleanor Nairne, co-curator of the depict, explains why there hasn’t been a full retrospective until now. Although Basquiat was immensely prolific during his short life, organizations were slow to recognise his talent.” The period between his first solo indicate and his death was six years ,” she says.” Institutions do not move that speedily. During his lifetime he only had two displays in a public space[ as opposed to a commercial gallery ]. There’s not a single work in a public collect in the UK .” There are not many in the US, either: the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York has a couple, but when the city’s Museum of Modern Art( MoMA) was offered his run when he was alive, it said no, and it still doesn’t own any of his paints( it has some on loan ). The head curator, Ann Temkin, later are recognizing that Basquiat’s work was too advanced for her when she was offered it.” I didn’t recognise it as great, it didn’t look like anything I knew .”

Basquiat was born to a middle-class family in Brooklyn. His father was Haitian- quite a strict figure- and his mother, whose mothers were Puerto Rican, was bear in Brooklyn. His mothers split up when he was seven and he and his sisters lived with his father, including a move, for a while, to Puerto Rico. His mom, to whom he was close, was committed to a mental hospital when he was 11. Basquiat was rebellious, angry, and moved from school to school. His education ended in New York when, for a dare, he emptied a box of shaving cream over the principal’s head during a graduation rite. By 15, he was leaving home on and off. He once slept in Washington Square Park for a week.

New York City in the late 1970 s was utterly unlike it is now: un-glitzy, rough, with many houses burnt out and abandoned.” The city was crumbling ,” says Alexis Adler,” but it was a very free time. We were able to do whatever we wanted because nobody cared .” Rents were inexpensive( or people squatted) and downtown New York was a grubby, exhilarating mecca for the artistic dispossessed. The punk scene, centred on the venue CBGB, was giving way to something more experimental, involving art, cinema and what would become hip-hop. Everyone used to go every night, everyone was creative, everyone was going to make it big.

” We were all these young kids in New York to carry out our Warhol fiction ,” says Michael Holman,” but instead of being a ringleader as Warhol was, we were in the band ourselves, making art ourselves, we were acting in cinemas, constructing cinemas, “weve all” one-man depicts, with a lot of collaborations. That was the norm, to be a polymath. Whether you were a painter, an actor, a poet … you also had to be in a band, in order to truly be cool .”

Basquiat was, of course, in a band, with Holman and others including Vincent Gallo; they were called Gray. They formed in 1979, but before that, Basquiat constructed his presence felt through his graffiti. Working with his school friend Al Diaz, from 1978 he was spraying the buildings of downtown NYC with their shared SAMO tag. SAMO( c ), originally a cartoon character Basquiat had drawn for local schools magazine, was derived from the phrase” same old shit “. It was meant, in part, to be a satire on corporations and the tag was straightforward , not decorative. Instead of pictures, SAMO( c) asked odd topics, or constructed enigmatic, poetic declarations:” SAMO( c) AS A Conglomerate OF DORMANT-GENIOUS[ sic ]” or” PAY FOR SOUP, BUILD A FORT, SET THAT ON FIRE “. The SAMO( c) tag was everywhere. Before anyone knew Jean-Michel Basquiat, they knew SAMO( c ).

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Jean-Michel Basquiat and Al Diaz’s SAMO( c) tag. Photo: Jean-Michel Basquiat /( c) Henry A. Flynt Jr

Basquiat left home permanently at 16 and slept on the sofas and floors of friends’ places, including UK artist Stan Peskett’s Canal Street loft. There he made friends with graffiti artists including Fred Brathwaite( better known as Fab 5 Freddy) and Lee Quinones of graffiti group the Fabulous 5, and made postcards and collages.( Once Basquiat spotted Andy Warhol in a eatery, popped in and sold him a couple of those postcards .) Brathwaite and Holman put on a party at the loft on 29 April 1979, as a style of bringing uptown hip-hop to the downtown art crowd. Before the party started, Holman remembers, this child turned up, and said he wanted to be in the present. Holman didn’t know him, but” people with that kind of energy, “youve never” stand in their way, you just say, Yes, run !” They set up a large piece of photo newspaper and Basquiat started spraying it with a can of red paint. He wrote:” Which of the following is omniprznt[ sic ]? a) Lee Harvey Oswald b) Coca Cola logo c) General Melonry or d) SAMO .”” And we all went, Oh my God, this really is SAMO !” says Holman. Later at the party, Basquiat asked Holman, who had been in the glam-rock band the Tubes, if he too wanted to be in a band. Gray was formed there and then.

The members of Gray, which settled into the line-up of Holman, Basquiat, Wayne Clifford and Nick Taylor, deliberately employed paint or sculpture as references, as opposed to music. Their highest expression of kudo was ” ignorant”, used in the same way as bad( entailing good ). Holman recalls playing a gig with a long loop of tape passing through a reel-to-reel machine and then around the whole band. Brathwaite was at Gray’s first gig, at the Mudd Club in New York, and said afterward:” David Byrne[ of Talking Heads] was there. Debbie Harry. It was a real who’s who. Everyone was there because of Jean…SAMO’s in a band! They came out and played for only 10 minutes. Somebody was playing in a box .”

Gray ended when Basquiat’s painting took off. He was always painting and drawing, initially in the style of Peter Max( believe Yellow Submarine ), but quickly received his own aesthetic, which employed writing, and had elements of Cy Twombly and Robert Rauschenberg. Because he had no fund for canvases, he painted on the detritus he dragged in from the street- doors, briefcases, tyres- as well as the more permanent components in his flat: the refrigerator, the TV, the wall, the floor. About the same period that Gray began, Basquiat started dating Adler, then a budding embryologist( he stepped in to protect her when she innocently elicited a street oppose ). Adler discovered a flat- at 527 East 12 th Street- where she still lives today, and they both moved in. There, Basquiat painted on everything, including Adler’s clothes.( When, in 2013, Adler revealed that she had maintained a lot of his work, she sold an actual wall of her flat via a Christies auction: it had a Basquiat painting of Olive Oyl on it.” They were careful about taking it out ,” she tells me.” And now we have glass bricks there instead !”)

Although she and Basquiat were sleeping together, it wasn’t a straightforward boyfriend-girlfriend thing, says Adler.” It was before Aids, a wild period, you could have whatever relationship you wanted .” They had separate rooms, and had sexuality with other people. Adler bought a camera to take pictures of Basquiat’s art, and of him mucking about: he played with putty on his nose, was interested in cinema and Tv( his phrase” boom for real”, utilized when he was impressed, came from a TV programme ), and shaved the front half of his head, so he would” look as though he was coming and running at the same hour “.

They went out every night to the freshly opened Mudd Club, in the Tribeca district. Friends came over until all hours( hard for Adler, who worked in a laboratory by day ). PiL’s Metal Box was on rotation, along with Bowie’s Low and records by Ornette Colman, Miles Davis. Adler loved Metal Box and nailed the cover up on the wall. When Basquiat watched it, he was full of dislike. He took the album down and nailed up William Burroughs’s The Naked Lunch in its place.” He find it offensive that I would set it up ,” says Adler. It wasn’t good enough to be art in his eyes.

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Basquiat on the situated of Downtown 81, spray can in hand. Photo: Alamy

Basquiat lasted at Adler’s flat until the spring of 1980. During that year, his run featured in a couple of group displays and he played the lead role in the film New York Beat Movie ( eventually released in 2000 as Downtown 81 ; the Barbican depict will play it in full ). In the cinema, Basquiat is the star, but it’s fun to play spot-the-famous-person: there are cameos by Debbie Harry, Fab 5 Freddy, Lee Quinones; the band Dna and even Kid Creole and the Coconuts make an appearance. The plot is of the day-in-the-life kind: Basquiat plays an artist who wanders the street trying to sell a paint so he can get enough money to move back into his apartment. He sells it, but is paid by cheque, so he club-hops, trying to find a girl he can go home with. You can’t imagine the role was much of a stretch.

When he wasn’t clubbing, Basquiat worked hard- Brook Bartlett, an artist he mentored in the early 1980 s, recalls him painting ceaselessly- and his switching from being penniless to rich happened between 1981 and 1982. He was by then living with Suzanne Mallouk, who had moved from Canada to become an artist. They’d fulfilled when she was bartending at Night Bird. Basquiat would come in, stand at the back of the room and stare at her. Initially, she thought he was a hobo- “hes having” shaved hair at the front of his head, bleached baby dreadeds at the back, and wore a coat five sizes too big.” He wouldn’t come to the bar because he had no fund for drinks ,” she recalls.” But then, after two weeks, he came in, set a loading of change down and bought the most expensive drink in the place: Remy Martin.$ 7 !”. Mallouk was intrigued. They were the same age and had a lot in common. Basquiat moved into her tiny walk-up flat.

Within eight months, there was money everywhere. Mallouk:” I watched him sell his first paint to Deborah Harry for $200, and then a few months later he was selling paintings for $20,000 each, selling them faster than he could paint them. I watched him induce his first million. We went from stealing bread on the way home from the Mudd Club and eating pasta to buying groceries at Dean& DeLuca; the fridge was full of tarts and caviar, we were drinking Cristal champagne. We were 21 years old .” Basquiat would leave piles of money around the apartment, buy Armani suits by the dozen, throw parties with” mounds of cocaine “. His rise coincided with a shift in the city: financiers were looking to invest in art, and the latter are cruising around art depicts, snapping up new work.

The first public reveal of Basquiat’s paints was in 1981: New York/ New Wave, at PS1 in Long Island, brought together by Mudd Club co-founder and curator Diego Cortez. It was a group show that included pieces by William Burroughs, David Byrne, Keith Haring, Nan Goldin, Robert Mapplethorpeand Andy Warhol, but Basquiat was given a whole wall, which he filled with 20 paintings.( The Barbican show recreates this, with 16 of the original 20 on display .) His run caused a sensation.

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Jean-Michel Basquiat painting, 1983. Photo: Jean-Michel Basquiat/ Barbican

Basquiat gained a merchant: Annina Nosei. She gave him the basement under her gallery to work in( Fred Brathwaite didn’t approve:” A black child, painting in the basement, it’s not good, man”, he said afterward ), which was where Herb and Lenore Schorr, benign and interested art collectors, satisfied him. The Schorrs expended some time in the gallery choosing a piece of work, without knowing that Basquiat was working beneath them. Once they’d decided, he came up, and, though other collectors observed Basquiat threatening or obtuse, they liked him immediately. He didn’t explain his work-” he always said:” If you can’t figure it out, it’s your problem ,” says Lenore; to Bartlett, he said:” I paint ghosts”- but he pointed out parts that he thought he’d done particularly well, such as a snake.

Things were on the up. In early 1982, Nosei arranged for Basquiat and Mallouk to move from their small flat to the much fancier 151 Crosby Street in Soho, and she hosted his first ever solo demonstrate at her gallery: a huge success. Through another trader, Bruno Bischofberger( his most consistent representative ), Basquiat was formally introduced to Andy Warhol; afterwards, Basquiat immediately made a paint of the two of them, and had it delivered to Warhol, still wet, two hours after they’d parted. They formed the beginning of a friendship. Basquiat was then asked to do a show in LA, at the Gagosian gallery.

Film-maker Tamra Davis, who induced the Basquiat documentary Radiant Child ( 2009 ), fulfilled him in Los Angeles. She was an assistant at another gallery and a friend brought Basquiat over.” Jean-Michel came and he didn’t have a car and he didn’t know where to go and we demonstrated him around ,” she says.” That was our assignment. It was the funnest thing ever. I was going to cinema school, and he really loved cinemas, so we would go to the movies together, talk about them. He was the new thing in township, everyone wanted to get to know him. He was so charming, but it was also like hanging out with the Tasmanian demon. Everywhere he went, chaos would pass. You didn’t know what was going to happen next. It was invigorating, but it was also genuinely tiring .”

Basquiat, though, was never tired. He had unending energy, partly drug-fuelled: he needed it in LA, as he brought no paints with him. He rarely did, for his indicates: instead he’d arrive early at whichever city the show was in and attain the paintings there.” He could stimulate 20 paintings in three weeks ,” says Davis. In 1986, she filmed him working: he would have source books open, the TV on, music playing and worked on several canvases at once. For this first LA show, he made works including Untitled( Yellow Tar and Feathers ) and Untitled( LA Painting ), the picture that only expensed Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa $ 110.5 m( in 1984, it ran for $19,000 ). Every single one sold.

Once back in New York, Basquiat left Nosei and joined another merchant, Mary Boone. His reputation was rocketing. The opening for his solo display at Patti Astor’s Fun Gallery was packed with celebrities, recall the Schorrs, who consider that particular show to be his finest, and all the work sold on the first night.

Reviews, however, were scarce. Basquiat’s push-me-pull-you relationship with the art establishment was becoming evident: the dealer he wanted, Leo Castelli, repudiated him as too troublesome; there was prejudice against him for his youth, for having first run as a graffiti artist, for being untrained, and for being black. His work was represented as instinctive, as opposed to intellectual, though he was well versed in art history; some held the patronising idea that he didn’t know what he was doing.

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Basquiat’s Hollywood Africans, 1983. Photograph: Jean-Michel Basquiat/ Barbican
Racism also had an everyday impact: he would leave successful opening parties and find it impossible to get a taxi. Herb Schorr would give him lifts to induce his life easier( they would gag that he should wear a peaked cap and be Basquiat’s driver ). George Condo, an artist on the rise at the same day, remembers going to a eatery with him in LA and not being allowed in.” I said:’ Do you know who this is? This is Jean-Michel Basquiat, the most important painter of our time .’ The guy said,’ He’s not coming in. We don’t allow his kind in here .'” Brook Bartlett remembers a journey to Europe in 1982 during which a rich Zurich socialite intimated that she, an 18 -year-old white woman, would be a civilising influence on Basquiat, who was four years older and already established. No wonder race became more prominent in his run: in his second LA Gagosian show, in 1983, Basquiat presented paints such as Untitled( Sugar Ray Robinson ), Hollywood Africans , Horn Players and Eyes and Eggs , featuring black musicians, performers and sportsmen.

Drugs, too, were around more and more.” Everyone in the East Village and in the arts world in the 80 s did drugs. Wall Street did drugs, everyone did medications ,” says Mallouk. But after Mallouk and Basquiat split up in 1983, Basquiat got increasingly into heroin.” He was sniffing it, smoking it and injecting it ,” says Mallouk.” There are just a few models that he was hanging out with that were doing it and that’s how he got into it .” He became unreliable, travelling to Japan on a whim, instead of going to Italy, where he had a show. But then, his focus was constantly diverted. Everyone wanted him. He was moving into a different world: his old friends still watched him, but intermittently.

During 1984 and 1985, Basquiat’s star shot higher and higher. There was a lot of travelling, a lot of attention. He was featured on the front cover-up of the New York Times Magazine in a suit with his feet bare. The Warhol estate rented him an all the more important place, a loft on Great Jones Street large enough for him to use as a studio as well as a flat, and in 1985 Basquiat and Warhol had a show of paints that they’d rendered jointly. Though the poster for the display has subsequently been constantly reworked and sampled( even Iggy Azalea used it on the coverof her 2011 mixtape Ignorant ), at the time, the indicate was not a success. One critic called Basquiat Warhol’s ” mascot “. Tamra Davis says this was hard for Basquiat.

” He really thought he was finally going to be appreciated ,” she says.” And instead they tore the depict apart and said these horrible things about him and Andy and their relationship. He get so sad, and from then on it was hard to see a comeback. Anybody that you talked to that find him around that time, he got more and more paranoid, his dreaded went deeper and deeper .”

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With Andy Warhol at their joint show in 1985, which was savaged by the critics. Photo: Richard Drew/ AP

And gradually, gradually his heroin use was catching up with him. Alhough he was greatly inspired by a trip to Abidjan, Ivory Coast, and though he had displays all over the world- Tokyo, New York, Atlanta, Hanover, Paris- it became known among his friends that he was fighting. Mallouk would go over to his Great Jones loft.” I would beg him to get help and he only couldn’t do it ,” she says.” He threw the Tv at me. People would stop me on the street, saying Jean-Michel is in a really bad way, he has places all over his face, he is totally out of it, you need to go and help him … It was pretty common knowledge that he was not well .”

In February 1987, Andy Warhol died at the age of 58. Basquiat is more and more reclusive, though he still generated work for shows, and stimulated plans, in early 1988, to revisit Ivory Coast to go to a Senufo village. He began to talk about doing something other than art: write perhaps, or music, or setting up a tequila business in Hawaii. In 1988, he went to Hawaii to get clean: Davis insured him in LA afterwards.” He was sobers, he was gonna do better, “its like” LA had a bit of Shangri-La about it for him .” But his visit was strange: he brought random people to dinner, people he’d merely met at the airport, and he was unnaturally upbeat, too happy. It built her afraid.

In 2014, Anthony Haden-Guest wrote an article for Vanity Fair that describes in detail Basquiat’s last night: 12 August 1988. In New York, he did drugs during the day, and was dragged out to a Bryan Ferry aftershow party at bank-turned-club MK by his girlfriend, Kelly Inman, and another friend. He left speedily, with his pal Kevin Bray. They went back to the Great Jones loft, but Basquiat was nodding. Bray wrote him a note.” I DON’T WANT TO SIT HERE AND WATCH YOU DIE ,” it said. Bray read it out to Basquiat, and left.

The next day, Inman went to the apartment at 5.30 pm. Jean-Michel Basquiat was dead.

It was a sad objective to a rocket-flight life. And the subsequent battle between Basquiat’s estate and various dealers over pieces of his work was not pretty. Collectors sued for paints bought but never received. Merchants claimed they owned works; the estate said they’d stolen them. There were too many Basquiat pieces knocking around on the market( 500 -6 00 canvasses, according to one expert ): the estate would only corroborate the provenance of a few. Then the taxman came knocking: Basquiat hadn’t paid taxes for three years before his death.

But the years have softened or resolved the arguments, and the work has had a life of its own. Though the majority of members of his most important art is owned by collectors, who keep it hidden away, it maintains seeping out, as if drawn to its public. And we want his work, it seems. Not only are institutions ultimately coming around to his genius, but his work can be seen on T-shirts, on sneakers( Reebok did a Basquiat range ), on the arms of hip-hop artists. Just samples, short clips taken out of context, snippets and hints of the full, mind-whirling Basquiat experience.” He questions things and he references things he wants you to pay attention to ,” says Davis.” His paintings were meant to be seen by as many people as is practicable. They’re like movies or music , not just for person or persons alone .”

His art is irrevocably intertwined with his life: his charisma and drive, his race, his talent and sad demise. But it is bigger than that. Like the best art, it needs the world and the world needed most. And if you stand in front of a Basquiat and looking, it sings its own song, only to you.

Basquiat: Boom for Real is at the Barbican, London EC2, from 21 September until 28 January 2018

Basquiat, as remembered by his friends

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Basquiat with then girlfriend Suzanne Mallouk. Photograph: Duncan Fraser Buchanan

Michael Holman, musician and film-maker
Basquiat was born fully realised. And if anything, that is the kiss of death: you’re gonna burn brightly and burn fast. If you impressed him, if he complimented you, you simply felt you’d been blessed by a saint, it was a very emotionally and spiritually profound experience. That’s one of the ways to calibrate his otherworldliness. Because he would never compliment you if he didn’t believe it to his core.

We all went out[ almost] every night, till 4 in the morning. It was so important. Not merely did we go out and blow off steam, and satisfy people, have sex in the bathroom, get high, all that stuff that you do in clubs. But within the clubs the scene also creatively happened … all kinds of pass, performances, art shows … Club 57 and Mudd Club, they fed us and they directed us and guided us, brought us together with crucial people, in a way that going to openings or concerts just didn’t do. It generated a community that supported each other. It was a special time. With[ our band] Gray, I taped a microphone to the head of a snare drum, face down, and attached masking tape to the drum, then pulled the masking videotape off and allowed that to be a audio. Jean would loosen the strings on an electric guitar, then operate a metal file across the strings.

In 1982, two years after Jean left Gray, I’d become an avant garde film-maker. I had this cable TV prove, and I asked him to do an interview. He made it clear to me, without saying anything, that I wouldn’t be able to do this interview if I didn’t get high with him. He was doing base, like a high-end form of crack. I’d never done it before and, boy, I’ve never done it since. I could scarcely keep my focus. I could barely stop shake, but it scarcely affected him. He had such a high tolerance.

He was a sensationalist. He pushed the boundaries of any kind of sensation, anything that would set off his endorphins, his nerve ending, his brain cells. He was after the sensation of something special and brilliant and different and electrical and massive. Would he have been good at middle age? Well, part of middle age is the struggle of coming to this place in which you know you’ve plateaued in some ways. When we pass that hump and start going down the other route, we are living and succumbing at the same day. I don’t think he wanted to go there.

Lenore and Herb Schorr, major New York collectors, and the first to recognise and subsistence Basquiat
Lenore : We were very excited by the first paint we watched by him. This is not a common reaction, we’ve determined, even now! He’s a very difficult artist for many, many people. But we just felt he was a wonderful, brilliant artist, very, very early.

Herb : The artists understood him- some of them. They were there first, along with a few professionals. Basically, he had his collector base, but they weren’t knocking down the doors for them as they are today. There was not this hysteria. Really , nothing changes. We’re just finishing reading a book called The Portrait of Dr Gachet by Cynthia Saltzman, which is about a Van Gogh painting, and a lot of it is the same narrative as Basquiat. It takes 20 years after his death before a Van Gogh enters a museum. Anything which transgresses new ground takes a while for people to catch up to.

Lenore : Jean was very smart and he knew his art history. Modernism, Picasso, right up to the present and Jean knew it all. So we really had a nice rapport. I could see it in his work, Picasso, Rauschenberg, they were all important influences, he had absorbed the performance of their duties. It was beautifully rendered, remade in his speech, with his message, with New York at the time, his personal feelings.

Herb : We didn’t see him in a drugged state, well maybe once, he seemed a little angry, he wasn’t the same person. He would call and perhaps he needed more fund. Once, he called us up early in the morning and we lived in the suburb, you know, and he said,” I need fund, I have a painting for you .” But he didn’t turn out by the end of the working day …

Lenore : It’s so sad, he tried to get down it. Andy Warhol tried hard with him, they would exercising together.

Herb : We have good memories of him. One day he said he wanted to come up and have a white man’s barbecue.

Lenore : We expected him around three and he shows up at eight, with friends. It was quite a party, there was skinny-dipping- not me!- I had the children here and there was a little pot being smoked, I could reek it, and we were like, We’re gonna be busted! It was a great, fun evening.

Suzanne Mallouk, partner, 1981 -1 983, and lifelong friend
We immediately had this feeling of kindred spirits. We were the same age, I left home at 15, so did he. We were both first generation from immigrant families- my father was Palestinian, his father was Haitian. Both of us didn’t fit into any racial or ethnic group. Both of us suffered racism. We both had old-world fathers who employed corporal punishment. My mother is English, from Bolton. His stepmother was English. It was very interesting, the common histories we had. Authoritarian parents that ensure European women as a prize. And I think it genuinely shaped Jean-Michel’s experience. He was intelligent enough to resent that European girls were somehow valued more, he saw the racism in that, yet most of his girlfriends were white. He was conflicted about it; he discussed it with me.

I hated that I had a undertaking and he didn’t. I was an artist, too- how dare he make me work as a waitress and live off me! Often I would come home and he would take fund out of my handbag to buy drugs. We would have terrible battles. He would say,” I promise I’ll look after you when I’m famous, please just let me do my art, I’m going to be famous very soon .” But I didn’t maintain anything, so I didn’t get anything. He didn’t like me keeping things, he would virtually be jealous of his own artwork. He would say,” Why do you want to keep something of mine when you have me ?” Eventually, he gave me the message that really I could no longer be an artist. He was the only artist in the family and I had to look after him. It was kind of misogynist.

It wasn’t that he only watched Andy[ Warhol] as a father figure, he also truly had a flirtation with him. Often when I was with the two of them together, it didn’t feel like I was there with Jean; it felt like I was there with two homosexual lovers. He once joked with me that he had had sexuality with Andy, but I don’t know if it was a joke. Jean had a history of being bisexual, but Warhol was asexual, so I don’t know. People misunderstand the relationship if they just think Andy was helping Jean. Jean was already he was highly established, he was already famous or Andy would not have been interested in him. I believe Andy required new life breathed into his career; I suppose the two of them needed each other.

Two weeks before his death, I was living with a new boyfriend in my little East Village hut. Jean rang the buzzer in the middle of the night and we both get up, and said ” Who is it ?”” Jean-Michel, Jean-Michel, is Suzanne there ?” I buzzed him in but he never came up. I ran down the stairs to look for him, but he’d gone, and two weeks later he was dead. My heart was infringe when I operated down the stairs and he was gone. Because I never stopped loving him. I still feel love for him and he’s been dead for over 30 years.

You’re going to think I’m mad, but I have dreamings, and in the dreams Jean-Michel is ageing. It’s as though he’s living in a parallel world. And often he’s annoyed that I’m there, he’s like,” Don’t tell anyone I’m here Suzanne. Don’t tell anyone I faked my demise, and especially don’t tell the New York Times !” He’s just living a really simple life,

Read more: www.theguardian.com

21 Ordinary Things That You Can Build Extraordinary With Metallic Spray Paint

While scrolling through pages and pages of shiny, pretty things on Z Gallerie’s website one day and wondering which of my organs I could part with to afford them, I noticed a trend.

The stuff that usually catches my eye is shiny, metallic, and simply reflective enough for me to see my own weeping face as my fund vanishes right before my eyes. Pleasant! Fortunately for me and everybody else in my boat that’s usually floating on a ocean of human tears, online crafters are here to save the working day once again. With a few cans of metal spray paint, you can severely up the glam factor in your home without defaulting on your mortgage.

1. Hey, I can afford branches. So can you! Rummage through your yard, slap on some gold spray paint, and set these newborns in a vase that you probably stole from your grandma’s house.

2. You’re about to get your friends feeling nice and distorted when they see that you’re so fancy, you gild your pears.

If you follow the link above, you can also get some insight into which metallic paints are the best!

3. Does anyone else hoard Mason jars? Give them new life with some silver metallic spray paint!

4. Speaking of jars, this makeover is basically the best thing I’ve ever seen.

5. Use spray paint to take that antique table from drab to fab in mere minutes!

6. Once the kiddos grow up, give that old magnetic alphabet a seriously glam upgrade.

7. Make party adornments with gold spray paint and straws that are style cuter( and way cheaper) than anything you’d find at the craft store.

8. Repurpose coffee cans with a touch of copper to generate the most adorable herb planters of all time.

9. Not into the red and green Christmas motif? Me neither. Give decorations a heaping helping of luxury by gilding them up, girl.

10. If you’re impression extra( which is my default setting ), present your fan no glittering mercy.

11. No fund for new chairs? No problem. Spray your old ones into shiny oblivion.

12. Use stencils to generate geometric designs on coasters for a modern touch.

13. Paint your hangers if you’re stuck use a free-standing clothing rack in lieu of a closet.

14. I can’t be the only one who decorates with candles that’ll never, ever insure a flame. Make a sweet ombre effect to build them next-level gorgeous.

15. Take the brick you usually use to smash open your piggy bank when it’s rent period and spray paint it gold to build a sick bookend( that you can still used only for the piggy bank situation if need be ).

16. Pick up some little toys from the dollar store, glue them to jar eyelids, and paint them to give your desk storage a facelift.

17. Upcycle all those wine bottles you’ve collected since you started drinking your feelings.

18. Rubbermaid drawers are awesome. You know what else they are? Hideous. Make them less hideous so you can live like a packrat in style.

19. You could pay $40 and six kidneys for gold mugs from Anthropologie, or you could make them yourself.

20. Ditch glass gems and fill your vases with painted beans. Coffee and pinto beans should do the trick!

21. Steal a few landscaping pebbles that your neighbour likely paid good money for, whip out some spray paint, and make everyone jealous of your chic centerpiece.

I don’t know about you, but I’m about to get my Midas on. If you devote any of these projects a try, let us know in the comments!

Nothing in my apartment is safe. Nothing.

Read more:

The Jean-Michel Basquiat I knew …

The graffiti artist turned painter became the starring of the 1980 s New York art scene. Since his death aged 27, his reputation has soared. On the eve of a major UK show, we speak to his friends

It’s always seducing to mythologise the dead, especially those who die young and beautiful. And if the dead person is also astonishingly gifted, then the myth becomes inevitable. Jean-Michel Basquiat was just 27 when he died, in 1988, a strikingly gorgeous young man whose stunning, genre-wrecking run had already brought him to international attention; who had in the space of just a few years morphed from an underground graffiti artist into a painter who commanded many thousands of dollars for his canvases.

So perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised that all individuals I talk to who knew Basquiat when he was alive, from girlfriends to collectors, musicians to painters, speaks about him as special. Still, it’s noticeable that they all do. Basquiat- even before he was acknowledged as an artist- was assured by his friends as exceptional.

” I knew when I satisfied him that he was beyond the normal ,” says musician and film-maker Michael Holman, who founded the noise band Gray with Basquiat.” Jean-Michel had his flaws, he was mischievous, he had certain things about him that could be called amoral, but defining that aside, he had something that I’m sure he had from the moment he was born. It was like he was born fully realised, a realised being .”

” He was a beautiful person and an amazing artist ,” says Alexis Adler, a former girlfriend.” I recognised that from the get-go. I knew he was brilliant. The only person around that time I felt the same thing about was Madonna. I wholly, 100% knew they were going to be big .”

Basquiat the man and Basquiat the painter is very difficult to untangle. He lived hard and succumbed harder( from an unintentional heroin overdose ), and had more of the rock-star persona than the art aesthete about him, a cool celebrity sparkle that didn’t always work in his favour. Some art connoisseurs find his work hard to take seriously; others, though, have an immediate, almost visceral answer. To me, a non-art critic, his work is fantastic: it feels contemporary, with a chaotic, musical sensibility. It’s beautiful and hectic, young and old, graphic, apprehending, packed with ambiguous codes; there’s a questioning of identity, especially race, and a sampling of life’s stimulus that takes in music, cartoons, commerce and institutions, as well as celebrities and art greats.( Not sexuality, though: though he had lots of partners, his paints are rarely erotic .). You could stand in front of a Basquiat painting and be fascinated for hours.

Since he died, Basquiat has had a mixed reputation. There was a time in the 1990 s when he was dismissed as a lightweight. Museums repudiated him as a jumped-up wall-sprayer. But over the past few years, his starring has been on the rise and even those who are snooty about his art can’t argue with his cultural influence. A few years ago a Christie’s spokesperson described him, pointedly, as” the most collected artist of sportsmen, performers, musicians and entrepreneurs “. As one of the few black American painters to break through into international consciousness, he is referenced a lot in hip-hop: Kanye West, Jay-Z, Swizz Beatz, Nas and others cite Basquiat in their lyrics; Jay-Z, in Most Kingz, uses the” most monarches get their head cut off” phrase from Basquiat’s painting Charles the First . Jay-Z and Swizz Beatz own his runs, as do Johnny Depp, John McEnroe and Leonardo DiCaprio. Debbie Harry was the first person ever to pay for a Basquiat piece; Madonna owns his art and they dated for a couple of months in the mid-8 0s.

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Jean-Michel Basquiat’s 1982 painting Untitled( LA Painting) selling off $110.5 million( PS85m) at Sotheby’s in New York, to become the sixth most expensive run ever sold at auction. Photo: Shutterstock

A household name in the US, Basquiat is less well known in the UK, though the sale, in May, of one of his paints ( Untitled( LA Painting ), 1982) for $110.5 m( PS85m ), the highest amount ever for an American artist at auction, stimulated headlines. Now, Boom for Real, a vast exhibition at the Barbican- the first Basquiat show in the UK for more than 20 years- aims to open our eyes. Researched and curated for four years, it follows his career from street to gallery, acknowledges the exceptional days he was working in, and expands its references from straightforwardly visual art to music, literature, Tv and movies, all areas in which Basquiat experimented. It tries to see things from Basquiat’s point of view.

Eleanor Nairne, co-curator of the present, explains why there hasn’t been a full retrospective until now. Although Basquiat was immensely prolific during his short life, organizations were slow to recognise his talent.” The period between his first solo indicate and his death was six years ,” she says.” Organizations do not move that speedily. During his lifetime he only had two demonstrates in a public space[ as opposed to a commercial gallery ]. There’s not a single work in a public collect in the UK .” There are not many in the US, either: the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York has a couple, but when the city’s Museum of Modern Art( MoMA) was offered his run when he was alive, it said no, and it still doesn’t own any of his paintings( it has some on loan ). The head curator, Ann Temkin, afterwards admitted that Basquiat’s work was too advanced for her when she was offered it.” I didn’t recognise it as great, it didn’t look like anything I knew .”

Basquiat was born to a middle-class household in Brooklyn. His father was Haitian- quite a strict figure- and his mother, whose mothers were Puerto Rican, was bear in Brooklyn. His mothers split up when he was seven and he and his sisters lived with his father, including a move, for a while, to Puerto Rico. His mom, to whom he was close, was committed to a mental hospital when he was 11. Basquiat was rebellious, angry, and moved from school to school. His education ended in New York when, for a dare, he emptied a box of shaving cream over the principal’s head during a graduation ceremony. By 15, he was leaving home on and off. He once slept in Washington Square Park for a week.

New York City in the late 1970 s was utterly unlike it is now: un-glitzy, rough, with many builds burnt out and abandoned.” The city was crumbling ,” says Alexis Adler,” but it was a very free time. We were able to do whatever we wanted because nobody cared .” Rents were cheap( or people squatted) and downtown New York was a grubby, exhilarating mecca for the artistic dispossessed. The punk scene, centred on the venue CBGB, was giving way to something more experimental, involving art, movie and what would become hip-hop. Everyone used to go every night, everyone was creative, everyone was going to make it big.

” We were all these young kids in New York to carry out our Warhol fiction ,” says Michael Holman,” but instead of being a ringleader as Warhol was, we were in the band ourselves, making art ourselves, “were in” are active in cinemas, inducing cinemas, we were all one-man proves, with a lot of collaborations. That was the norm, to be a polymath. Whether you were a painter, an actor, a poet … you also had to be in a band, in order to really be cool .”

Basquiat was, of course, in a band, with Holman and others including Vincent Gallo; they were called Gray. They formed in 1979, but before that, Basquiat made his presence felt through his graffiti. Running with his school friend Al Diaz, from 1978 he was spraying the buildings of downtown NYC with their shared SAMO tag. SAMO( c ), originally a cartoon character Basquiat had depicted for local schools publication, was derived from the phrase” same old shit “. It was meant, in part, to be a satire on corporations and the tag was straightforward , not decorative. Instead of paintings, SAMO( c) asked odd topics, or made enigmatic, poetic declarations:” SAMO( c) AS A Conglomerate OF DORMANT-GENIOUS[ sic ]” or” PAY FOR SOUP, BUILD A FORT, SET THAT ON FIRE “. The SAMO( c) tag was everywhere. Before anyone knew Jean-Michel Basquiat, they knew SAMO( c ).

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Jean-Michel Basquiat and Al Diaz’s SAMO( c) tag. Photograph: Jean-Michel Basquiat /( c) Henry A. Flynt Jr

Basquiat left home permanently at 16 and slept on the sofas and floors of friends’ places, including UK artist Stan Peskett’s Canal Street loft. There he made friends with graffiti artists including Fred Brathwaite( better known as Fab 5 Freddy) and Lee Quinones of graffiti group the Fabulous 5, and built postcards and collages.( Once Basquiat spotted Andy Warhol in a eatery, popped in and sold him a couple of those postcards .) Brathwaite and Holman put on a party at the loft on 29 April 1979, as a route of bringing uptown hip-hop to the downtown art crowd. Before the party started, Holman recollects, this kid turned up, and said he wanted to be in the display. Holman didn’t know him, but” people with that kind of energy, you never stand in their style, you just say, Yes, go !” They set up a large piece of photo paper and Basquiat started spraying it with a can of red paint. He wrote:” Which of the following is omniprznt[ sic ]? a) Lee Harvey Oswald b) Coca Cola logo c) General Melonry or d) SAMO .”” And we all ran, Oh my God, this is SAMO !” says Holman. Later at the party, Basquiat asked Holman, who had been in the glam-rock band the Tubes, if he too wanted to be in a band. Gray was formed there and then.

The members of Gray, which settled into the line-up of Holman, Basquiat, Wayne Clifford and Nick Taylor, purposely use painting or sculpture as references, as opposed to music. Their highest expres of praise was ” ignorant”, used in the same way as bad( meaning good ). Holman remembers playing a gig with a long loop of videotape passing through a reel-to-reel machine and then around the whole band. Brathwaite was at Gray’s first gig, at the Mudd Club in New York, and said subsequently:” David Byrne[ of Talking Heads] was there. Debbie Harry. It was a real who’s who. Everyone was there because of Jean…SAMO’s in a band! They came out and played for simply 10 minutes. Somebody was playing in a box .”

Gray aimed when Basquiat’s painting took off. He was always painting and draw, initially in the style of Peter Max( guess Yellow Submarine ), but speedily detected his own esthetic, which used penning, and had elements of Cy Twombly and Robert Rauschenberg. Because he had no fund for canvases, he painted on the detritus he dragged in from the street- doorways, briefcases, tyres- as well as the more permanent components in his flat: the fridge, the Tv, the wall, the floor. About the same period that Gray began, Basquiat started dating Adler, then a budding embryologist( he stepped in to protect her when she innocently elicited a street fighting ). Adler find a flat- at 527 East 12 th Street- where she still lives today, and they both moved in. There, Basquiat painted on everything, including Adler’s clothes.( When, in 2013, Adler revealed that she had maintained a lot of his work, she sold an actual wall of her flat via a Christies auction: it had a Basquiat painting of Olive Oyl on it.” They were careful about taking it out ,” she tells me.” And now we have glass bricks there instead !”)

Although she and Basquiat were sleeping together, it wasn’t a straightforward boyfriend-girlfriend thing, says Adler.” It was before Aids, a wild hour, you could have whatever relationship you wanted .” They had separate rooms, and had sexuality with other people. Adler bought a camera to take pictures of Basquiat’s art, and of him mucking about: he played with putty on his nose, was interested in film and TV( his phrase” boom for real”, use when he was impressed, came from a TV program ), and shaved the front half of his head, so he would” seem as though he was coming and going at the same hour “.

They went out every night to the freshly opened Mudd Club, in the Tribeca district. Friend came over until all hours( hard for Adler, who worked in a laboratory by day ). PiL’s Metal Box was on rotation, along with Bowie’s Low and records by Ornette Colman, Miles Davis. Adler loved Metal Box and nailed the cover up on the wall. When Basquiat ensure it, he was full of dislike. He took the album down and nailed up William Burroughs’s The Naked Lunch in its place.” He saw it offensive that I would set it up ,” says Adler. It wasn’t good enough to be art in his eyes.

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Basquiat on the situate of Downtown 81, spray can in hand. Photograph: Alamy

Basquiat lasted at Adler’s flat until the springtime of 1980. During that year, his work featured in a couple of group reveals and he played the lead role in the film New York Beat Movie ( eventually released in 2000 as Downtown 81 ; the Barbican reveal will play it in full ). In the film, Basquiat is the star, but it’s fun to play spot-the-famous-person: there are cameos by Debbie Harry, Fab 5 Freddy, Lee Quinones; the band DNA and even Kid Creole and the Coconuts make an appearance. The plot is of the day-in-the-life kind: Basquiat plays an artist who strays the street trying to sell a painting so he can get enough fund to move back into his apartment. He sells it, but is paid by cheque, so he club-hops, trying to find a girl he can go home with. You can’t imagine the role was much of a stretch.

When he wasn’t clubbing, Basquiat worked hard- Brook Bartlett, an artist he mentored in the early 1980 s, recollects him painting ceaselessly- and his shift from being penniless to rich happened between 1981 and 1982. He was by then living with Suzanne Mallouk, who had moved from Canada to become an artist. They’d satisfied when she was bartending at Night Bird. Basquiat would come in, stand at the back of the room and stare at her. Initially, she thought he was a hobo- he had shaved hair at the front of his head, bleached baby dreadeds at the back, and wore a coat five sizings too big.” He wouldn’t come to the bar because he had no money for drinks ,” she remembers.” But then, after two weeks, he came in, put a loading of change down and bought the most expensive drink in the place: Remy Martin.$ 7 !”. Mallouk was intrigued. They were the same age and had a lot in common. Basquiat moved into her tiny walk-up flat.

Within eight months, there was fund everywhere. Mallouk:” I watched him sell his first paint to Deborah Harry for $200, and then a few months later he was selling paintings for $20,000 each, selling them faster than he could paint them. I watched him attain his first million. We went from stealing bread on the way home from the Mudd Club and eating pasta to buying groceries at Dean& DeLuca; the fridge was full of pastries and caviar, we were drinking Cristal champagne. We were 21 years old .” Basquiat would leave piles of money around the apartment, buy Armani suits by the dozen, throw parties with” hills of cocaine “. His rise coincided with a shift in the city: financiers were looking to invest in art, and the latter are cruising around art proves, snapping up new work.

The first public prove of Basquiat’s paintings was in 1981: New York/ New Wave, at PS1 in Long Island, brought together by Mudd Club co-founder and curator Diego Cortez. It was a group show that included pieces by William Burroughs, David Byrne, Keith Haring, Nan Goldin, Robert Mapplethorpeand Andy Warhol, but Basquiat was given a whole wall, which he filled with 20 paints.( The Barbican show recreates this, with 16 of the original 20 on display .) His work caused a sensation.

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Jean-Michel Basquiat painting, 1983. Photo: Jean-Michel Basquiat/ Barbican

Basquiat gained a dealer: Annina Nosei. She dedicated him the basement under her gallery to work in( Fred Brathwaite didn’t approve:” A black child, painting in the cellar, it’s not good, man”, he said afterward ), which was where Herb and Lenore Schorr, benign and interested art collectors, gratified him. The Schorrs expended some time in the gallery choosing a piece of work, without knowing that Basquiat was running beneath them. Once they’d chose, he came up, and, though other collectors observed Basquiat threatening or obtuse, they liked him immediately. He didn’t explain his work-” he always said:” If you can’t figure it out, it’s your problem ,” says Lenore; to Bartlett, he said:” I paint ghosts”- but he pointed out components that he thought he’d done particularly well, such as a snake.

Things were on the up. In early 1982, Nosei arranged for Basquiat and Mallouk to move from their small flat to the much fancier 151 Crosby Street in Soho, and she hosted his first ever solo display at her gallery: a huge success. Through another dealer, Bruno Bischofberger( his most consistent representative ), Basquiat was formally introduced to Andy Warhol; afterwards, Basquiat immediately made a paint of the two of them, and had it delivered to Warhol, still wet, two hours after they’d parted. They formed the beginning of a friendship. Basquiat was then asked to do a show in LA, at the Gagosian gallery.

Film-maker Tamra Davis, who constructed the Basquiat documentary Radiant Child ( 2009 ), gratified him in Los Angeles. She was an assistant at another gallery and a friend brought Basquiat over.” Jean-Michel came and he didn’t have a car and he didn’t know where to go and we depicted him around ,” she says.” That was our assignment. It was the funnest thing ever. I was going to film school, and he really loved movies, so we would go to the movies together, talk about them. He was the new thing in township, everyone want to get get to know him. He was so charming, but it was also like hanging out with the Tasmanian devil. Everywhere he went, chaos would result. You didn’t know what was going to happen next. It was invigorating, but it was also actually tiring .”

Basquiat, though, was never tired. He had unending energy, partly drug-fuelled: he needed it in LA, as he brought no paints with him. He rarely did, for his shows: instead he’d arrive early at whichever city the display was in and stimulate the paints there.” He could build 20 paints in three weeks ,” says Davis. In 1986, she filmed him running: he would have source books open, the TV on, music playing and worked on several canvases at once. For this first LA show, he created works including Untitled( Yellow Tar and Feathers ) and Untitled( LA Painting ), the picture that only expensed Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa $ 110.5 m( in 1984, it went for $19,000 ). Every single one sold.

Once back in New York, Basquiat left Nosei and joined another dealer, Mary Boone. His reputation was rocketing. The opening for his solo depict at Patti Astor’s Fun Gallery was packed with celebrities, recall the Schorrs, who consider that particular display to be his finest, and all the work sold on the first night.

Reviews, however, were scarce. Basquiat’s push-me-pull-you relationship with the art establishment was becoming evident: the merchant he wanted, Leo Castelli, repudiated him as too troublesome; there was racism against him for his youth, for having first run as a graffiti artist, for being untrained, and for being black. His run was represented as instinctive, as opposed to intellectual, though he was well versed in art history; some held the patronising idea that he didn’t know what he was doing.

Basquiat’s
Basquiat’s Hollywood Africans, 1983. Photo: Jean-Michel Basquiat/ Barbican
Racism also had an everyday impact: he would leave successful opening parties and find it impossible to get a taxi. Herb Schorr would give him lifts to attain their own lives easier( they would gag that he should wear a peaked cap and be Basquiat’s driver ). George Condo, an artist on the rise at the same time, recalls going to a restaurant with him in LA and not being allowed in.” I said:’ Do you know who this is? This is Jean-Michel Basquiat, the most important painter of our time .’ The guy said,’ He’s not coming in. We don’t allow his kind in here .'” Brook Bartlett remembers a trip-up to Europe in 1982 during which a rich Zurich socialite intimated that she, an 18 -year-old white woman, would be a civilising influence on Basquiat, who was four years older and already established. No wonder race became more prominent in his run: in his second LA Gagosian show, in 1983, Basquiat presented paints such as Untitled( Sugar Ray Robinson ), Hollywood Africans , Horn Players and Eyes and Eggs , featuring black musicians, performers and sportsmen.

Drugs, too, were around more and more.” Everyone in the East Village and in the arts world in the 80 s did drugs. Wall Street did drugs, everyone did medications ,” says Mallouk. But after Mallouk and Basquiat split up in 1983, Basquiat get increasingly into heroin.” He was sniffing it, smoking it and injecting it ,” says Mallouk.” There are just a few models that he was hanging out with that were doing it and that’s how he got into it .” He became unreliable, travelling to Japan on a whim, instead of going to Italy, where he had a prove. But then, his focus was constantly diverted. Everyone wanted him. He was moving into a different world: his old friends still saw him, but intermittently.

During 1984 and 1985, Basquiat’s star shot higher and higher. There was a lot of travel, a lot of attention. He was featured on the front cover of the New York Times Magazine in a suit with his feet bare. The Warhol estate rented him an even bigger place, a loft on Great Jones Street large enough for him to use as a studio as well as a flat, and in 1985 Basquiat and Warhol had a show of paintings that they’d rendered jointly. Though the poster for the indicate has subsequently been constantly reworked and sampled( even Iggy Azalea use it on the coverof her 2011 mixtape Ignorant ), at the time, the depict was not a success. One critic called Basquiat Warhol’s ” mascot “. Tamra Davis says this was hard for Basquiat.

” He genuinely thought he was finally going to be appreciated ,” she says.” And instead they tore the show apart and said these horrible things about him and Andy and their relationship. He got really sad, and from then on it was hard to see a comeback. Anybody that you talked to that ensure him around that time, he got more and more paranoid, his dreaded went deeper and deeper .”

With
With Andy Warhol at their joint show in 1985, which was savaged by the critics. Photograph: Richard Drew/ AP

And gradually, gradually his heroin use was catching up with him. Alhough he was greatly inspired by a trip to Abidjan, Ivory Coast, and though he had reveals all over the world- Tokyo, New York, Atlanta, Hanover, Paris- it became known among his friends that he was struggling. Mallouk would go over to his Great Jones loft.” I would beg him to get help and he only couldn’t do it ,” she says.” He hurled the TV at me. People would stop me on the street, saying Jean-Michel is in a really bad way, he has spots all over his face, he looks really out of it, you need to go and assistance him … It was pretty common knowledge that he was not well .”

In February 1987, Andy Warhol died at persons under the age of 58. Basquiat is more and more reclusive, though he still created work for shows, and made schemes, in early 1988, to revisit Ivory Coast to go to a Senufo village. He began to talk about doing something other than art: writing perhaps, or music, or setting up a tequila business in Hawaii. In 1988, he went to Hawaii to get clean: Davis assured him in LA afterwards.” He was sobers, he was gonna do better, “its like” LA had a bit of Shangri-La about it for him .” But his visit was strange: he brought random people to dinner, people he’d simply met at the airport, and he was unnaturally upbeat, too happy. It made her afraid.

In 2014, Anthony Haden-Guest wrote an article for Vanity Fair that describes in detail Basquiat’s last night: 12 August 1988. In New York, he did drugs during the day, and was dragged out to a Bryan Ferry aftershow party at bank-turned-club MK by his girlfriend, Kelly Inman, and another friend. He left rapidly, with his pal Kevin Bray. They went back to the Great Jones loft, but Basquiat was nodding. Bray wrote him a note.” I DON’T WANT TO SIT HERE AND WATCH YOU DIE ,” it said. Bray read it out to Basquiat, and left.

The next day, Inman went to the apartment at 5.30 pm. Jean-Michel Basquiat was dead.

It was a sad end to a rocket-flight life. And the subsequent battle between Basquiat’s estate and various traders over pieces of his work was not pretty. Collectors sued for paints bought but never received. Traders claimed they owned works; the estate said they’d stolen them. There were too many Basquiat pieces knocking around on the market( 500 -6 00 canvasses, according to one expert ): the estate was able to corroborate the provenance of a few. Then the taxman came knocking: Basquiat hadn’t paid taxes for three years before his death.

But the years have softened or resolved the arguments, and the run has had a life of its own. Though most of his most important art is owned by collectors, who keep it hidden away, it keeps seeping out, as if drawn to its public. And we want his work, it appears. Not merely are institutions finally coming around to his genius, but his run can be seen on T-shirts, on sneakers( Reebok did a Basquiat scope ), on the arms of hip-hop artists. Just samples, short clips taken out of context, snippets and hints of the full, mind-whirling Basquiat experience.” He questions things and he references things he wants you to pay attention to ,” says Davis.” His paints were meant to be seen by as many people as is practicable. They’re like movies or music , not just for person or persons alone .”

His art is irrevocably intertwined with their own lives: his charisma and drive, his race, his talent and sad demise. But it is bigger than that. Like the best art, it needs the world and the world needs it. And if you stand in front of a Basquiat and look, it sings its own song, just to you.

Basquiat: Boom for Real is at the Barbican, London EC2, from 21 September until 28 January 2018

Basquiat, as remembered by his friends

Basquiat
Basquiat with then girlfriend Suzanne Mallouk. Photo: Duncan Fraser Buchanan

Michael Holman, musician and film-maker
Basquiat was born fully realised. And if anything, that is the kiss of death: you’re gonna burn brightly and burn fast. If you impressed him, if he complimented you, you only felt you’d been blessed by a saint, it was a very emotionally and spiritually profound experience. That’s one of the ways to calibrate his otherworldliness. Because he would never compliment you if he didn’t believe it to his core.

We all used to go[ nearly] every night, till 4 in the morning. It was so important. Not only did we go out and blow off steam, and fulfill people, have sex in the bathroom, get high, all that stuff that you do in clubs. But within the clubs the scene also creatively happened … all kinds of occurs, performances, art proves … Club 57 and Mudd Club, they fed us and they directed us and guided us, brought us together with crucial people, in such a way that going to openings or concerts merely didn’t do. It made their home communities that supported each other. It was a special hour. With[ our band] Gray, I videotapeed a microphone to the head of a snare drum, face down, and attached masking tape to the drum, then pulled the masking tape off and allowed that to be a sound. Jean would loosen the strings on an electric guitar, then operate a metal file across the strings.

In 1982, two years after Jean left Gray, I’d become an avant garde film-maker. I had this cable Tv present, and I asked him to do an interview. He made it clear to me, without saying anything, that I wouldn’t be able to do this interview if I didn’t get high with him. He was doing base, like a high-end sort of fissure. I’d never done it before and, boy, I’ve never done it since. I could scarcely maintain my focus. I could barely stop shaking, but it barely affected him. He had such a high tolerance.

He was a sensationalist. He pushed the boundaries of any kind of sensation, anything that would set off his endorphins, his nerve ending, his brain cells. He was after the sensation of something special and brilliant and different and electrical and massive. Would he have been good at middle age? Well, part of middle age is the struggle of coming to this place in which you know you’ve plateaued in some way. When we pass that hump and start going down the other style, we are living and succumbing at the same period. I don’t think he wanted to go there.

Lenore and Herb Schorr, major New York collectors, and the first to recognise and supporting Basquiat
Lenore : We were very excited by the first paint we considered by him. This is not a common reaction, we’ve found, even now! He’s a so difficult artist for many, many people. But we just felt he was a wonderful, brilliant artist, very, very early.

Herb : The artists understood him- some of them. They were there first, along with a few professionals. Basically, he had his collector base, but they weren’t knocking down the doors for them as they are today. There was not this hysteria. Really , nothing changes. We’re just finishing reading a book called The Portrait of Dr Gachet by Cynthia Saltzman, which is about a Van Gogh painting, and a lot of it is the same tale as Basquiat. It takes 20 years after his death before a Van Gogh enters a museum. Anything which breaks new ground takes a while for people to catch up to.

Lenore : Jean was very smart and he knew his art history. Modernism, Picasso, right up to the present and Jean knew it all. So we really had a nice rapport. I could see it in his run, Picasso, Rauschenberg, they were all important influences, he had absorbed the performance of their duties. It was beautifully rendered, remade in his language, with his message, with New York at the time, his personal feelings.

Herb : We didn’t see him in a drugged country, well maybe once, he seemed a little angry, he wasn’t the same person. He would call and maybe he required more fund. Once, he called us up early in the morning and we lived in the suburbs, you know, and he said,” I need money, I have a painting for you .” But he didn’t turn up by the end of the working day …

Lenore : It’s so sad, he tried to get by it. Andy Warhol tried hard with him, they would exert together.

Herb : We have good memories of him. One period he said he wanted to come up and have a white man’s barbecue.

Lenore : We expected him around three and he shows up at eight, with friends. It was quite a party, there was skinny-dipping- not me!- I had the children here and there was a little pot being smoked, I could reek it, and we were like, We’re gonna be busted! It was a great, fun evening.

Suzanne Mallouk, partner, 1981 -1 983, and lifelong friend
We immediately had this feeling of kindred spirits. We were the same age, I left home at 15, so did he. We were both first generation from immigrant households- my father was Palestinian, his father was Haitian. Both of us didn’t fit into any racial or ethnic group. Both of us suffered racism. We both had old-world parents who used corporal punishment. My mom is English, from Bolton. His stepmother was English. It was very interesting, the common histories we had. Authoritarian parents that watched European girls as a prize. And I think it really shaped Jean-Michel’s experience. He was intelligent enough to resent that European women were somehow valued more, he saw the racism in that, yet most of his girlfriends were white. He was conflicted about it; he discussed it with me.

I disliked that I had a chore and he didn’t. I was an artist, too- how dare he make me work as a waitress and live off me! Often I would come home and he would take money out of my handbag to buy narcotics. We would have terrible opposes. He would say,” I promise I’ll look after you when I’m famous, please just let me do my art, I’m going to be famous very soon .” But I didn’t maintain anything, so I didn’t get anything. He didn’t like me keeping things, he would almost be jealous of his own artwork. He would say,” Why do you want to keep something of mine when you have me ?” Eventually, he gave me the message that really I could no longer be an artist. He was the only artist in the family and I had to look after him. It was kind of misogynist.

It wasn’t that he only ensure Andy[ Warhol] as a father figure, he also truly had a flirtation with him. Often when I was with the two of them together, it didn’t feel like I was there with Jean; it felt like I was there with two homosexual lovers. He once joked with me that he had had sexuality with Andy, but I don’t know if it was a gag. Jean had a history of being bisexual, but Warhol was asexual, so I don’t know. People misunderstand the relationship if they just think Andy was helping Jean. Jean was already he was highly established, he was already famous or Andy would not have been interested in him. I suppose Andy needed new life breathed into his career; I believe the two of them needed each other.

Two weeks before his death, I was living with a new boyfriend in my little East Village hovel. Jean rang the buzzer in the middle of the night and we both get up, and said ” Who is it ?”” Jean-Michel, Jean-Michel, is Suzanne there ?” I buzzed him in but he never came up. I operated down the stairs to look for him, but he’d gone, and two week ago he was dead. My heart was transgres when I operated down the stairs and he was gone. Because I never stopped loving him. I still feel love for him and he’s been dead for over 30 years.

You’re going to think I’m mad, but I have dreams, and in the dreams Jean-Michel is ageing. It’s as though he’s living in a parallel world. And often he’s annoyed that I’m there, he’s like,” Don’t tell anyone I’m here Suzanne. Don’t tell anyone I faked my demise, and especially don’t tell the New York Times !” He’s just living a really simple life,

Read more: www.theguardian.com

That $100,000 Painting Bought to Flip Is Now Worth About $20,000

Art dealer and collector Niels Kantor paid $100,000 two years ago for an abstract canvas by Hugh Scott-Douglas with the idea of rapidly reselling it for a tidy profit. Instead, he is returning the 28 -year-old artists work to the market this week at an 80 percentage discount.

Such is the new art season. At auction homes in London and New York, sellers are preparing to bail on their investments after the emerging-art bubble explosion and the resale market for once sought-after artists dried up.

Untitled by Hugh Scott-Douglas
Source: Phillips

Id rather take a loss, told Kantor, who is offering the Scott-Douglas work at the Phillips auction in New York on Sept. 20. I feel like it can go to zero. Its like a stock that crashed.

Prices for runs by young artists such as Scott-Douglas and Lucien Smith soared with the auction market in 2014, sometimes reaching hundreds of thousands of dollars, when they were traded like bull-market tech stocks. But since auction sales began to drop in late 2015, the emerging names have been hit especially hard. Marketings by some artists are down 90 percentage or more as the glut of run and nosebleed costs scare away buyers.

Thats because speculators purchase art to resell it , not to keep it.

Economics 101

When those speculators realize that there is no end user at a higher cost, then they scramble to sell the work before they lose everything, said Todd Levin, director of Levin Art Group, who advises collectors. The demand is driven by avarice, the selloff by dread. Its Economics 101.

Todays market is a far cry from a few years ago, when young artists churning out process-based abstract work presented a chance for outsize returns.

The works were often created by artists still in their 20 s. Smith watched a painting he made while an undergraduate at New Yorks Cooper Union fetch $389,000 at Phillips in 2013, two years after it was purchased for $10,000.

Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered 3 by Lucien Smith
Photographer: CLX Europe

This week, estimates for three Smith pieces are as low as $7,000. One, from the series he made by spraying more than 200 canvases with paint from a flame extinguisher, is estimated at $12,000 to $18,000. A bigger spray run selling off $372,120 two years ago.

This whole year has been a big readjustment, a much-needed one, like a chiropractic session, said Timothy Blum, co-owner of Blum& Poe Gallery in Los Angeles, New York and Tokyo. It can hurt, but you come out on the other objective better than before.

Scott-Douglass untitled canvas, one of several resembling a sheet of blueprint grid newspaper, is estimated at $18,000 to $22,000 at Phillipss New Now marketing. The work was part of the artists sold-out exhibition at Blum& Poe in 2013, when it garnered $25,000.

Drunk Traders

Kantor acquired the work privately in July 2014. Four months later, a similar piece from the series ran for $100,000 at Christies. Kantor expected the prices to keep surging, but in February 2015 another canvas from the same series failed to sell at auction.

I feel like “were in” a little bit drunk and didnt think of the consequences, he told. Then the bottom fell out. Everyone got stuck with their pants down.

Before consigning his piece to Phillips, Kantor tried selling it privately for a year — through Blum& Poe, the works former owned, even on EBay. At one point he was asking $50,000 but couldnt get an offer.

There are certainly some cases where people have paid more at the height of the market, told Rebekah Bowling, head of the Phillips sale. We are in a market where we have to be conservative. Everyone is very price conscious.

As a result, auction estimates often not only are down from the heyday, but also below primary market prices. At Phillips, more than half of the 204 plenties are estimated below $10,000.

Still, traders representing Scott-Douglas in the U.S ., the U.K. and Hong Kong say they continue placing his newer runs through the gallery market, which is more stable. His collectors include billionaires Francois Pinault and Japanese artist Takashi Murakami. The artists works are also in the collectings of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, and the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University, according to the Blum& Poe website.

No one is folding tent because auction prices have declined, said Casey Kaplan, whose gallery is opening the artists solo exhibition in New York next month. Costs for fresh runs by Scott-Douglas range from $25,000 to $80,000.

There are several reasons to sell low, according to Kantor.

Supply Chain

Some people are looking for a tax loss. Some people didnt pay much. Some people bought for an investment, he said from Los Angeles. These are big runs. You are paying storage and insurance.

Unwound Rope Wall Piece by Dodd
Source: Phillips

Keeping calculates modest could help set up a new bullish cycle, told Stefan Simchowitz, the Los Angeles entrepreneur known for buying in bulk from young artists on behalf of clients and for his own collection.

I am going to be extremely active in the auction market as a vendor and a buyer, told Simchowitz, who owns 3,500 artworks.

At Phillips, Simchowitz is parting with a piece by Lucy Dodd, an artist he said he isnt able to collect in depth. The run, made of rope strands hanging off a horizontal wooden bar like a curtain, may bring $10,000 to $15,000. Dodds auction record of $37,500 was set in May, shortly after the Whitney Museum of Art displayed her large-scale paintings stimulated with materials such as fermented walnuts.

I want to create a supply chain of work at lower cost phases so that people can come in again and start buying opportunistically, Simchowitz said. People can say: I dont have to worry about losing this money.

Read more: www.bloomberg.com