Composer Jon Batiste is set to bring the life of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat to the stage via a new Broadway musical. The New Orleans-bred musician and bandleader of “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” announced the show on Tuesday (September 25):
Excited to announce that I’ll be writing the music & lyrics for the upcoming Broadway musical inspired by Basquiat’s genius. (Hollywood Africans, 1983) pic.twitter.com/AMzn8foUzY
Deadline reports that Batiste will collaborate with stage producers Barbara and Alan D. Marks (The Encounter”) and director John Doyle (“The Color Purple” revival) on the untitled project. The team partnered with the late Haitian- and Puerto Rican-American artist’s estate, which granted rights to use his original art and personal archival material in the musical.
“Over the years, many people have approached us about telling our brother’s story on stage,” sisters Lisane Basquiat and Jeanine Heriveaux, who administer their brother’s estate, told Deadline. “But having discussed this project with the Marks over many months, our interest was piqued once we understood that their approach to telling our brother’s story treats his life, his art and his legacy with respect and passion. With Jon Batiste and John Doyle leading the creative team, we are thrilled with the possibilities. We cannot wait to begin the developmental process. Broadway is a new world for us, and we look forward to sharing our brother’s life and art.”
Batiste wants the musical to both capture Basquiat’s story and inspire other artists to channel his creative spirit.
“I want people to leave this show inspired to create. I want them to not only learn about Jean-Michel Basquiat, an innovator, but to also feel the visceral thrill of the creative process and to deepen and discover their own creativity,” he told Deadline. “We have an opportunity to tell a truly profound story, full of emotional highs and lows, with unbelievable art at the center. I’m honored to work with veteran storyteller John Doyle, the Marks and the Basquiat family. We are assembling a team to help craft a boundary pushing masterpiece inspired by a true American original.”
A collection of unreleased work from Jean-Michel Basquiat will be unveiled this December at X Contemporary, a satellite event of Miami’s Art Basel. According to a report from Art News, the exhibit will feature a range of Basquiat’s work — including paintings, collages, and drawings — created by the artist between 1979 and 1981, in his good friend Lonny Lichtenberg‘s New York apartment.
Curating the display will be another of Basquiat’s close friends, Al Diaz. The name Diaz might sound familiar, considering he’s the artist Basquiat collaborated with during his graffiti days, creating the infamous SAMO graffiti tag that was painted throughout the streets of downtown Manhattan in the late 1970s.
The show, hosted by Brooklyn’s Bishop Gallery, will run from November 30 to December 4, at Miami’s Nobu Hotel.
This news joins other recent Basquiat exhibit announcements, including one that’s happening in the UK. London’s Barbican Centre is hosting Boom For Real, the UK’s first large scale Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibition, which will feature over 100 of the late New York artist’s works, with his most famous paintings lined up alongside notebooks and drawings.
As a child, Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988) was a junior member of the Brooklyn Museum, which he used to visit with his mother and where he got a globalist view of art history that would provide fuel for his own later painting. He’s back at the museum now, part of that global history, in “Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks.”
Jean-Michel Basquiat’s painting titled “Dustheads” sold for $48.8 million yesterday at Christie’s at a sale of postwar and contemporary art in New York, setting a new auction record for Basquiat. His “Untitled,” a painting of a black fisherman, held the previous record when it sold for $26.4 million last November. Also breaking world auction prices for artists were works by Roy Lichtenstein and Jackson Pollock.
Lichtenstein’s “Woman with Flowered Hat” fetched $56 million. A classic example of pop art, the 1963 painting is based on Pablo Picasso’s portrait of his lover Dora Maar. An important drip painting by Pollock, “Number 19,” realized a record $58.3 million. Christie’s says Wednesday’s auction brought in $495 million, the highest total at any art auction.
Whether seen in a market report, an art history book or a rap verse, the name Jean-Michel Basquiat is legendary. The dreadlocked young artist quickly rose to fame after taking up graffiti in New York City, becoming an incandescent art star before his untimely death in 1988 at only 27 years old.
A new three-part video series released by Christie’s remembers Basquiat not only for his artistic genius, but also his energy, audacity and growing pains. The series begins with Basquiat’s high school friend and the other half of the graffiti duo known as SAMO, Al Diaz. “What we were doing was a response to everything around us…everything we were disillusioned by.”
Next we hear from Toxic, Basquiat’s friend and contemporary, who paints a picture of the Haitian artist’s meteoric rise to fame.
Finally we hear from Ben Haggerty, aka Macklemore — yes, the singer of “Thrift Shop” — for a surprisingly touching meditation on Basquiat as a source of inspiration in his work as he grapples with his own success. “When he got with Warhol it was like everyone just tore him down.” Macklemore continues, “That’s such a weird feeling as an artist to make something that’s pure, that’s from the heart, that is who you are, and have a group of people shit on you.”
In a conversation with the curator and critic Henry Geldzahler in Interview, the 23-year-old artist delivers a deceptively simple, thought-provoking line: “The more I paint the more I like everything.” The films above honor the mind and legacy of a star that burned too bright, too fast. Basquiat’s collection will show at Gagosian Gallery in Hong Kong from May 25 until August 10, and “Dustheads” (1982) is expected to fetch $25-35 million at Christie’s Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale on May 15.
Jean-Michel Basquiat’s ‘Museum Security (Broadway Meltdown)’ painting estimated at 7-9 million GBP is displayed at Christie’s in February in London, England. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? More to the point, is a sound only a sound if someone hears it? Without delving too deeply into the metaphysics, this riddle offers an imperfect analogy for the philosophical conundrum more relevant here, namely – is art only art if someone sees it? TheGrio interviewed Alexis Adler, a New York University embryologist and former romantic companion of iconic Haitian-American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, these and other tacit questions about how we evaluate, share and make meaning of art played mysteriously in the background.
Adler, who lived with Basquiat before he was famous, recently revealed plans to share a previously unseen, thirty-year-old collection of art works and ephemera from the early career of the tragic and prolific creator. Produced during their relationship in an East Village apartment — some pieces on the apartment — these pieces have never been seen by the art world or the public.
“This is allowing the people who knew Jean to tell the world more about him, who he was, how I knew him, his warmth and interest as a person,” Adler told theGrio about her plans. “There is a range of work from that time, and it offers a pretty intense snapshot of his beginnings as an artist.”