On July 3, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao will inaugurate the most ambitious retrospective of influential New York artist Jean-Michel Basquiat held in Spain to date. Organised by the Art Gallery of Ontario, one of the most prestigious museums in Canada, in collaboration with the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and with the generous sponsorship of Iberdrola, the show will include approximately one hundred large-scale paintings, drawings, and photographs from public and private collections across Europe and North America.
The exhibition, curated by one of the world’s leading experts on Basquiat, the Austrian Dieter Buchhart, is one of the most ambitious projects dedicated to this artist in recent years as well as the first thematic examination of his work, which explored issues such as history, identity, and the street culture associated with graffiti and hip-hop.
Jean-Michel Basquiat (b. 1960–d. 1988) was one of the most revolutionary figures of the 1980s art scene—which also included Jeff Koons, whose retrospective will overlap with Basquiat’s at the Guggenheim Bilbao. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, as a child he showed remarkable intellectual and artistic abilities that ultimately led him to create a complex, groundbreaking universe. With each new showing of his work in the United States and Europe, Basquiat’s fame quickly spread, and in a short period of time he became a prolific creator and highly visible member of the New York art scene.
Basquiat was admired and befriended by artists like Andy Warhol, with whom he collaborated on numerous occasions, and his work blazed new trails in contemporary art. His innovative outlook, which continues to inspire present-day artists, raised questions that are still relevant today. In a single work, Basquiat referenced a plethora of images by using symbols, images or texts, and he transferred the context in which he lived to the canvas without clearly defined narratives, presaging the digital era and inviting spectators to think critically about the world around them.
Jean-Michel Basquiat: Now’s the Time will occupy the third floor of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao from July 3 to November 1 and will be curated by Álvaro Rodríguez Fominaya and Dieter Buchhart.