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Rome celebrates US legend JeanMichel Basquiat

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« on: October 08, 2008, 06:39:43 pm »


                                      Rome celebrates US legend JeanMichel Basquiat

                                            Show features rarely exhibited works

 (ANSA) -
October 8 - 2008

Rome is paying tribute to 20th-century US art legend Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988) with an exhibition offering an overview of his increasingly troubled work.

The show in Palazzo Ruspoli, which opens after a successful run in Spain, particularly spotlights the poetical element of Basquiat's art and his fascination with the human form. From his earliest years as a graffiti artist in New York, Basquiat's passion for words emerged in his art. He grew up fluent in French, Spanish and English and loved reading, devouring Symbolist poetry, mythology, and history.

As his art progressed, from graffiti, to collages and then to brightly coloured canvases, words remained a constant feature, and some of his later canvases were covered with writing.

Basquiat's other passion, even more than words, was the human body. Fascinated by anatomy from early childhood, he studied it intently, reading dozens of medical texts. Fragmented, shattered visions of the human form were a recurrent theme in his work.

''This fragmentation partly refers to the alienation Basquiat experienced as a black man living in a racist society,'' commented Olivier Berggruen, who curated the exhibit. ''This society then welcomed him with the same speed it would later reject him a few years afterwards, when his drug habit made him persona non grata among most gallery owners and collectors''. Basquiat, who died of a drug overdose at the age of 27, was born in 1960 in Brooklyn, New York to a Puerto Rican mother and a Haitian father.

He started out spraying graffiti and poetry on the walls of New York's slums, using the famous SAMO tag, which stood for Same Old s**t. He dropped out of high school before graduating and turned his hand to painting, forming a raw, innovative style that made use of many influences, including his Haitian roots.

Basquiat exhibited his works around New York with other emerging artists, including Keith Haring, and in later years he worked closely with Andy Warhol.

He went on to become a leading figure in the Neo- expressionist movement of artists, whose works portrayed recognizable objects, in a bright, passionately emotional way. Already popular in his lifetime, his work has continued to grow in value since his death. Last year, an untitled piece from 1981 sold at Sotheby's in New York for a record 14.6 million dollars.

The Rome show features over 40 works, around a quarter of which from private collections and rarely exhibited.


                                          Jean-Michel Basquiat. Scacciando Fantasmi

                                         (Jean-Michel Basquiat: Chasing Away Ghosts)

it runs in Palazzo Ruspoli until February 1.
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