When street art enters the room

KAWS was born in New Jersey in 1974 and graduated from the School of Visual Arts in New York in 1994. After graduation, he worked for the Disney Company. After getting help from friends, he injected his own skull logo elements into the advertising posters of bus stops and telephone booths in New York City, and KAWS became famous in one fell swoop.

The creative path of KAWS, a highly sought-after artist in the market, was also started by his “KAWS” graffiti on the streets of Brooklyn, New York.

Madonna’s ex-boyfriend, Andy Warhol’s high-profile apprentice, the most talented graffiti genius in history, fashion creator… Just one title is already enviable and hated, and he alone has so much. . He is a civilian genius and a star that has become popular overnight. The younger generations after him all look forward to his success, and are convinced that if they have talent, they will be recognized. This is perhaps his least controversial contribution to the field of art. As one of the most important artists in the 1980s, Jean-Michel Basquiat swept the art world like a whirlwind; yet, as short as a firework, he left the world at the age of only 27. His explosive new art-anti-traditional and filthy art, awakened the sleeping white art that was dominant in the United States.

In 1996, in the eighth year of the death of Jean-Michel Basquiat from a drug overdose, Julian Schnabel filmed the biographical film “Bath” with the title of the most mysterious and talented artist of the 20th century. Quette. At the beginning of the film, the young Basquiat wears a shining crown to watch Picasso’s “Guernica”. This scene sets the narrative tone for the whole film: an outsider with great dreams is self-taught, with the help of market prosperity. Dongfeng became a shining star in the art world, but was swallowed by it. Among them, Schnabel summed up Basquiat’s life in one sentence: he became famous because of his art, became famous because of his fame, and became a target of public criticism because of his famous reputation. However, I am afraid that Schnabel would not have thought that after entering the 21st century, Basquiat became more and more popular. T-shirts with his graffiti became popular in New York, and brokers and collectors showed interest in him as they did in Andy Warhol. In recent years, from New York to London, from museums, major auction companies to top galleries, all have joined the project of creating another art market superstar.

The most talented graffiti genius in history
Jean-Michel Basquiat was born in New York on December 22, 1960. He showed a high interest in painting since he was a child. His parents gave him enough guidance and often took him to art galleries and museums. . He was able to learn to read and write by himself at the age of 4, and was able to speak 3 languages ​​(French, Spanish, English) fluently at the age of 11. He is an extremely talented child, but these are far inferior to his talent for graffiti.

Basquiat experienced a car accident when he was seven or eight years old. During the hospitalization, his mother gave him an anatomy book. Basquiat benefited a lot from this. Many elements of bones, joints and muscle anatomy can be found in his paintings. These childhood experiences have planted the seeds for his later creation.

Although Basquiat’s father was a diplomat, he had no worries about food and clothing at home, but this did not stop Basquiat’s rebellion. At the age of 15, Basquiat ran away from home for the first time because his mother was seriously ill with his father, but was taken back home by the police soon after. A few years later, he dropped out of high school and went to another high school that was not well-known. His father swept him out, and the rift between father and son began to deepen. Basquiat, like most geniuses, is ambitious, wants to be famous, confident and talented. He wanted to prove his talent in front of his father. In New York of that era, there was nothing you could not do, maybe at that time, he had the desire to do graffiti. He has never received a professional education, relying entirely on his talent to scribble freely on the streets of the city.

In 1980, Basquiat decided to become an independent artist and began to live on the streets, selling his homemade T-shirts and postcards, and occasionally picking up money in the square. He sleeps in the park or at the home of his new girlfriend. Fortunately, his friends support and encourage him to create art. Basquiat formed a set of his own symbols and words early on, containing poetic symbols, philosophical connotations and satirical allegories, combining the influences of Haiti, Puerto Rico, Africa and Pop Art. Each graffiti used SAMO’s mysterious signature, and began to paint on existing materials, buildings, T-shirts and commercial projects. In fact, the opportunity for Basquiat’s fame is coming quietly. His reputation has been spread through the accumulation of SAMO graffiti until his first appearance on a TV show officially entered the public eye.

In June 1980, he took a stack of paper collages to participate in the “Times Square Exhibition” group exhibition, and stood out from hundreds of people; in September of the same year, he received the support of AnninaNosei Gallery and held it in May of the following year. A solo exhibition, all the paintings were sold out on the night of the exhibition. Basquiat’s fame soared into the sky, and since then he began a sparkling life.

High disciple of Andy Warhol
If Basquiat is a dark horse, Andy Warhol is his Bole. At that time, Pop Art headed by Andy Warhol was a great success, which marked the questioning and impact of ordinary people, that is, people without artistic background, on the art circle controlled by the elite. In such an environment, Basquiat’s paintings have been recognized by people with non-professional backgrounds, and his success is not accidental. At that time, Basquiat sold all kinds of postcards and T-shirts made with collage techniques for his livelihood. Andy Warhol admired them and bought a few. In fact, there is a follow-up to the story. After they took a group photo, Andy Warhol invited him to dinner, but Basquiat refused and returned to the studio. An hour later, he came to the restaurant with a painting. Andy Warhol said after seeing you: “I’m so jealous of you, you make works faster than me.” This fate became American contemporary art. The beginning of friendship and cooperation with iconic figures in the world.

In 1981, Andy Warhol invited Basquiat to participate in an exhibition called “New York/New Wave”. In 1982, this talented street wanderer officially entered the mainstream American art circle. At that time, there were very few black positions in the American art world. The 22-year-old Basquiat created a miracle for black artists. Young fame inspires Basquiat, but also burns him. But his success does not seem to be replicated. Unlike the minimalism and abstract expressionism that are popular in major art museums, the original street descent of Basquiat’s paintings seems to be incompatible with them. Even if the personal exhibition is successful, because he has no professional art background, the content of his paintings is Think of it as meaningless and racist. In fact, he only paints with pure talent. He has “translated” many elements such as religion, politics, celebrities, famous paintings and so on in his own way of painting, and they can be perfectly combined together. The critics only saw his skin color and street background.

There are many elements in Basquiat’s paintings that satirize current American social issues. American racism in the early 1980s never ceased, so elements related to the status of black people in Basquiat’s paintings accounted for a large part. When the media reported on him, they would usually label him as a black artist, saying that he was “enslaved” by galleries, etc. These negative reports related to black identity intensified after he became famous. But post-industrial American culture needs to accept the status of black people. As a celebrity of black culture, Basquiat added a crown to the head of the black image in the painting to satirize this inequality. His black identity has brought him attention and also put him on shackles.

Star or artist?
Basquiat’s fame skyrocketed, but his father never really recognized him. After becoming famous, he went to the restaurant where his father often went to eat together, wanting to show his fame and success in front of his father. But his father was indifferent and didn’t even respond to a word. The father and son split the table to have dinner with their friends, and the meeting ended in embarrassment. The disagreement with his father prompted him to have greater ambitions, and the more Basquiat was not recognized, the more he wanted to prove himself.

Basquiat’s success is full of the blind obedience of American mainstream culture to the local culture in the context of the Cold War. He is a representative of the “American Dream” and has influenced the forgotten and baby boomers of Americans. He is the darling of the era, with innate talent, but he is also fighting against this era and making his own voice. From the moment the artwork is sold, the relationship between art and artwork is not so great. Art is beginning to become an investment tool. This is a market that will not depreciate and is easy to control. From the outside, the boundaries between artists and art stars have been blurred. And Basquiat is an artist who wants to be a star.

In 1985, three years before his death, the 25-year-old Basquiat reached the pinnacle of fame and fortune. He appeared on the cover of Time Magazine and became the first black artist on the cover. However, people’s interest in him at that time mainly came from Andy Warhol’s interest in him, in addition to the close relationship between the music superstar Madonna and him. Ironically, the front-page article “New Art, New Money: American Artists’ Marketization” that Basquiat became the cover of the front-page article relentlessly pointed out the “mutual benefit” of the two: Warhol taught the art market. Experience, and the active-minded Basquiat provided new inspiration for him. Some critics accused Basquiat of too strong Warhol traces in his paintings. But Basquiat, who sees Warhol as a hero in his heart, gets the most from his idol, probably the ability to freely use and combine pop culture and different art forms. Therefore, when expressionist painting returned to people’s vision in the early 1980s, Basquiat followed the trend and became a dazzling star in this movement. Surprisingly, this article more than 30 years ago still looks outdated today. At the end of the article, it is mentioned that the artist’s impressive achievements in auctions are now being repeated again. The successive appearance of a series of records shows the unprecedented demand for contemporary art masters in the international collection market.

The young Basquiat gained too much money and reputation, which confused him. In a high-pressure environment, he had to rely on drugs to stimulate creativity. Gradually, his condition went from bad to worse, and the media attacked him more and more. But Basquiat was also lucky at that time. He got the support of his father and his girlfriend, and went to Hawaii to devote himself to recuperation and creation. Everything went well. After a while, he recovered his health and returned to the art circle to show off his fists. In fact, this opportunity also appeared. From 1983 to 1985, he co-created a series of works with Andy Warhol. At this time, he was at the peak of his personal reputation, but he suffered a huge failure in the exhibition. There is no doubt that these works are rare masterpieces in later generations, but in the eyes of the media at the time, they were just a hype by the talented “African Prince”, and media reports even speculated that they were using each other.

With Andy Warhol’s unexpected death, Basquiat’s state fell into a trough again. With great mental stress, he once again became addicted to drugs. This time, his relatives and friends did not succeed in helping him out of the shadows. In August 1988, Basquiat, who was under the age of 28, died of excessive drug use in his apartment.

New York street scene in the 1980s

Taking the city as the canvas
To this day, Basquiat is still regarded as a superstar who has fallen prematurely. From the streets to studios, galleries, and art galleries, Basquiat’s art path is the path of graffiti art into the mainstream art world. The epitome of. In the era of rising consumption, art and fashion trends that have gradually become consumer goods are entering the millennial generation. When we dig into the foundation behind it, we will find that it is difficult to separate the discussion with street art from New York in the 1970s and 1980s. The artist KAWS, who is highly sought after by the market today, is also based on the fact that he left “KAWS” on the streets of Brooklyn, New York. Opened by graffiti.

New York in the 1970s was a shaky city. A large number of manufacturing jobs have been lost, unemployment and crime rates have soared, and middle-class white people have moved to the suburbs, leaving behind significantly poorer and marginalized communities than before. The young people who “occupies” this land of dishonesty have nothing to do and find fun in their own way. They rap, dance on the floor, pick up spray paint and graffiti on the inside and outside of subway train cars…Hip-hop culture is quietly emerging at this time. Many new forms of expression have surpassed countless existing media in a short period of time, bringing the city to a renaissance in style.

Although graffiti is condemned by all walks of life like other chaotic and radical behaviors in New York City, it has become a fanatical dream in many people’s hearts, a visual and rebellious urban code word. The anonymous acts necessary for the writers to create completely conceal their identity and background, and the differences in race and class lose their meaning.

In the past 10 years, hip-hop culture has stepped into commercial galleries from pure street prosperity, and hip-hop culture has begun to push the future into new directions. In the 1980s, when graffiti turned from the street to the studio, the post-graffiti era officially began and entered the mainstream art world with a wider audience.

Rap music shakes the microphone, floor dance shakes the body, and graffiti shakes the city. Post-graffiti is one of the most creative but neglected movements in contemporary American art, and art institutions pay little attention to it. Although post-graffiti artists look for inspiration in underground comics, movies, street signs, and urban portraits, they also subversively explore racial discrimination, judicial order, and prejudice and greed in the art world. They realize that they are at war with the ideological system of very mainstream artistic creation. They are rebels, art radicals, and decided to turn this city into their studio and canvas.

Jean Michel Basquiat.

Although graffiti is condemned by all walks of life like other chaotic and radical behaviors in New York City, it has become a fanatical dream in many people’s hearts, a visual and rebellious urban code word.

Graffiti and post-graffiti art are often framed as today’s “street art” culture, which has a specific audience and adheres to its own aesthetic value system, and now has a global scale. However, whether it was the ubiquitous urban graffiti in the 1970s or the graffiti art that poured into the gallery system in the 1980s, it left an indelible mark on contemporary artists at the time, prompting them to return to extremely bold colors, expressionism, and popularity. Le-inspired shapes and wild abstract brushstrokes.

The embarrassment of the museum
Although Basquiat won the preference of the art market during his lifetime, he continued to run into a wall in the field of academic research. For museums in New York in the 1980s, minimalism is gaining momentum. Basquiat’s strong graffiti painting style broke the traditional definition of painting by museum curators, and even made conservative curators feel “discomfort”; Second, it seems that the lack of quotations from art history has caused differences of opinion and doubts among research scholars. Basquiat’s works are especially recognized among non-elite or lacking art history audiences-this is one of the artistic boundaries that Basquiat is trying to break, but it also sets him into the collection system of art institutions. Invisible obstacles. Even today, 33 years after Basquiat’s death, there are still many important American art museums that have not yet collected Basquiat’s paintings, the most well-known of which is the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

In addition, it is easy to fall into the dilemma of whether he is a serious artist or a pop star when he talks about Basquiat’s art and life from a public perspective in a museum. For example, regarding the “Basquiat: Real Prosperity” exhibition opened on September 21, 2017 at the Barbican Art Centre in the United Kingdom, Michael Growell, a reporter from The Independence Daily, commented that this is not so much an art exhibition Rather, it is a record of a so-called “Jean Michel Basquiat” socio-political phenomenon. This exhibition does not mention his death. Everything about him is becoming more and more positive. The fundamental reason for the existence of the art exhibition must be overwhelmed by the surrounding environment he lives in, the prestigious scandals, and all these attention to the details of his personal life—the words on the advertising paper, the scribbles written on the matchbox…curation Everyone looked at it carefully, and it seemed that the carriage was placed in front of the horse. “The Guardian” reporter Jonathan Jones expressed different or even completely opposite opinions. He believes that Basquiat’s 1982 “Donkey Jawbone” listed historical figures including Hannibal, Machiavelli, Savonarola, Sappho and Ramses II. This painting subverts Basquiat’s mindset that he can only be positioned as popular culture. It is an illusion of world history, full of endless wars. When Sai Twombly scribbled something similar on his abstract expressionist graffiti, everyone thought it was a serious comment on history. Basquiat and Twombly should be exhibited together, because Basquiat is also a great modern history painter.

But on the other hand, before Basquiat’s sudden death in 1988, his new works had already been criticized by the mainstream art world and had no sales. Like most geniuses who are not understood, Basquiat’s influence and value of his works have not been fermented for a long time after his death. The first dramatic peak of the development of the Basquiat market occurred in 2007. This was the period when the art market was booming. Basquiat’s works were auctioned at a global auction value of more than US$100 million for the first time that year. At the time, Christie’s vice chairman cited Basquiat’s market as “two levels of temptation-coveted rare talent, and the best period of 1981-1982.”

Although the 10-year creative career is not long, the degree of enthusiasm for the works of Basquiat’s Golden Age (1981-1982) among discerning collectors is obvious to all. By querying Basquiat’s 2000-2020 calendar year’s highest annual price and the top 10 historical transactions, we can clearly find that all the works on the list were created in the past two years. In the past two years, Basquiat’s paintings have bright and strong colors and detached brushstrokes, often with iconic crowns or copyright symbols, and one of the most notable features of the content is the direct or direct response to other artists. Indirect references and quotations, such as Leonardo da Vinci, Van Gogh, Picasso, Se Tomblay, etc. are all his quotations. In addition, another important theme in Basquiat’s works during this period is the discussion of African Americans’ identity, social status, and living conditions.

As the focus of the European and American art market gradually shifted from impressionism and modern art to post-war and contemporary art with a more adequate supply of excellent works after 2012, the market explosion period for Basquiat has really come. From 2012 to the present, the four consecutive changes in setting the highest price record show that the competition among global collectors for Basquiat’s top works has become fierce. Among them, the Japanese collector Maesawa Yusaku played an important role. In an interview with The New York Times after the filming of “Untitled” for US$115 million, Maesawa Yusaku explained: “I just follow my instincts. I feel good. , You will buy it.” And this work has been collected by Maesawa Youzu in his Chiba Museum.

Basquiat’s success is not only a digital increase, but also a global influence, as evidenced by his painting “To the God of Water”. In the past 30 years, it has been auctioned in New York, Paris, London and Hong Kong one after another, and the transaction speed is getting faster and faster. Regarding the sudden popularity of Basquiat’s works in the art market in recent years, some experts have analyzed it because the “baby boom generation” and “forgotten generation” in the United States have begun to have the right to speak. This generation was born in the 20th century. Young collectors around the 1970s have been enamored of non-mainstream art for many years, which in turn allowed art marketers to see a new opportunity for starmaking. But the reason I hear more often is because of the unparalleled charm of Basquiat and his works. As Scott Nussbaum, head of 20th Century and Contemporary Art at Phillips’ New York headquarters, said: “In my opinion, Basquiat is unique among artists of that generation. His artistic language It will resonate with people all over the world. He can communicate with collectors from every corner of the world. I am not sure whether there is such a person who transcends the limitations of the times in every generation of artists, and he is one of them. “