new-york

Jean-Michel Basquiat, With Strings Two, 1983, acrylic and mixed media on canvas, 96 x 60".

Jean-Michel Basquiat

Gagosian Gallery

Jean-Michel Basquiat, With Strings Two, 1983, acrylic and mixed media on canvas, 96 x 60".

I’ve never seen a commercial gallery show as well attended as this exhibition of nearly sixty works by Jean-Michel Basquiat. The artist was once a divisive figure, but no more: The crowds who poured in to see his work didn’t imagine they were coming to see something controversial. They were coming to see the work of a legend, a man whose life has been endowed by the press and cinema with all the tragic glamour of a James Dean or Jimi Hendrix or Kurt Cobain. But they also saw art that has turned out to have far more staying power than many would have once predicted.

The show presented the full arc of Basquiat’s brief career, from 1980, when he participated in his first group show, up through 1988, the year of his death. But the distinct emphasis was on the years when Basquiat was most productive, roughly between 1981 and 1984. In those days, journalists sometimes liked comparing

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