Jean-Michel Basquiat, Charles the First, 1982, acrylic and oil stick on canvas, 78 x 62 1/4". Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat.


Jean-Michel Basquiat

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
1001 Bissonnet
November 18, 2005–February 12, 2006

MOCA Geffen Contemporary
152 North Central Avenue
July 15–October 9, 2005

Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Parkway
March 11–June 5, 2005

Curated by Fred Hoffman, Kellie Jones, Marc Mayer, Franklin Sirmans

According to Marc Mayer, leader of this show's four-person curatorial team, Basquiat was “the last great modernist painter.” How so? Because, “if we think of him as a painter of the School of Paris, he was essentially a figurative and even narrative painter—but there's an extraordinary, breathless, endless reservoir of references in his work, as if he wanted his paintings to represent all of human history.” If this sounds a little like saying that a camel is a giraffe, but has humps—be patient. A Basquiat retrospective (of some ninety works) with a real art-historical ax to grind is something we need to see.

Travels to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, July 15–Oct. 9; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Nov. 18–Feb. 12, 2006.