Paris

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled, 1981, acrylic and oil stick on canvas, 81 × 69 1⁄4".

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled, 1981, acrylic and oil stick on canvas, 81 × 69 1⁄4".

Jean-Michel Basquiat

Fondation Louis Vuitton

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled, 1981, acrylic and oil stick on canvas, 81 × 69 1⁄4".

This exhibition, curated by Dieter Buchhart in collaboration with the Brant Foundation, gathers an impressive 120 of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s paintings, sculptures, and drawings, the majority of which have never before been exhibited in Europe. The inclusion of so many unfamiliar works (more than a few masterpieces among them) gives the retrospective a rare freshness and underscores the contemporary resonance of Basquiat’s oeuvre. Thirty years after the artist’s death, his heroic portraits of African American musicians and athletes, countered by disturbing evocations of racism, poverty, and police brutality, appear as vital as ever.

Almost perversely, the chronologically organized show opens with three “head” (or “skull”) paintings, each featuring a severely bruised and scarred face. Writing in the exhibition catalogue, Buchhart identifies the subject of one, In This Case, 1983, as

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