‘King Pleasure’ exhibit to showcase Basquiat’s never-before-seen works
It’s been more than three decades since his death, but we still haven’t seen all of Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Dozens of the artist’s works are entering into the public realm for the first time in a new exhibition that will open in early spring 2022 at the Starrett-Lehigh Building in West Chelsea, his family announced Wednesday.
The exhibition, titled “Jean-Michel Basquiat: King Pleasure,” will feature over 200 rarely and never-been-seen artworks by the late black artist, who focused on race and inequality.
The exhibition — which takes its name from Basquiat’s 1987 painting “King Pleasure,” inspired by the jazz vocalist who gained fame for the hit “Moody’s Mood for Love” — will feature many of his paintings, drawings, multimedia projects and artifacts that have been kept from the public eye for decades.
Basquiat’s sisters Lisane Basquiat and Jeanine Heriveaux — who run the Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat — wanted to tell a story of his work from the perspective of those who best understood the full extent of his creative endeavors.
“This exhibition showcasing the man behind the icon has been years in the making, from the initial idea in 2017 around the 30th anniversary of Jean-Michel’s passing to now,” said Heriveaux. “There’s been many exhibitions of Jean-Michel’s work, but never told from the perspective of the family — Jean-Michel as a child, a man, a son and a brother. As we were all in lockdown, we said: ‘Maybe now is the right time.’ “
The Brooklyn-born artist gained fame for his graffiti and paintings that tapped into the black experience in New York City. Many of his abstract artworks incorporated music, pop culture and black sports figures to propel his unique narrative about his community. At just 22, he became the youngest artist to exhibit at Manhattan’s Whitney Biennial.
In June 2020, Wall Street billionaire Ken Griffin paid more than $100 million for Basquiat’s 1982 masterwork “Boy and Dog in a Johnnypump.” In 2017, his painting “Untitled,” depicting a human skull, sold for a record $110.5 million at auction at Sotheby’s in Midtown.
“We wanted to bring his work and personality forward, in a way only his family can, for people to immerse themselves in,” said Lisane Basquiat. “We want this to be a multidimensional celebration of Jean-Michel’s life.”