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New exhibition to explore Jean-Michel Basquiat’s influence on hip-hop culture

“Writing the Future: Jean-Michel Basquiat and the Hip-Hop Generation” will shed light on the transition of street art from New York’s city walls into the art world in the 1980s.

The exhibition will reflect on how Basquiat became the frontrunner of this transformational movement in contemporary American art, which defied long-standing racial divisions.

Jean-Michel Basquiat, “Hollywood Africans” (1983). Image: courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston via AFP Relaxnews

“Writing the Future” will also feature works by some of his peers and collaborators, including Keith Haring, Futura, Fab Five Freddy and ERO.

Other artists whose works will be shown include A-One, Kool Koor, LA2, Lady Pink, Lee, Rammellzee and Toxic, marking the first time that Basquiat’s oeuvre will be contextualized in relation to his contemporaries from hip-hop culture.

A highlight of the show is Basquiat’s “Hollywood Africans”, in which he mixes street art and abstract expressionist stylistic motifs to comment on stereotypes about African-Americans in the entertainment industry, and the lack of opportunities for African-American talent.

The painting pays tribute to graffiti artists Toxic and Rammellzee, while also referencing African-American actress Hattie McDaniel, who won an Oscar in 1940 for her supporting role as Mammy in “Gone With The Wind”.

“Writing the Future: Jean-Michel Basquiat and the Hip-Hop Generation” will be on view from April 5 through Aug. 2, 2020 at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts.

Meanwhile in Australia, Basquiat is being celebrated in “Keith Haring|Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines”, which is on view until April 13 at the National Gallery of Victoria.

This exhibition offers new insights into the two artists’ visual languages, focusing on the intersections between their lives and ideas. IB/JB


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