Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Art rebels Basquiat, Schiele face off in Paris shows



Art rebels Basquiat, Schiele face off in Paris shows

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A staff member installs the label by an artwork of Austrian artist Egon Schiele at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris. JACQUES DEMARTHON/afp

Art rebels Basquiat, Schiele face off in Paris shows

THOUSANDS of Two new major exhibitions opening in Paris on Wednesday counterpoint the work of a pair of art world rebels – Jean-Michel Basquiat and Egon Schiele.

Although the black New Yorker who began as a graffiti artist and the early 20th-century Viennese painter came from very different worlds and eras, both lived hard, died young and battled their demons on canvas.

“Their gaze goes right through us,” said Suzanne Page, the director of the Foundation Louis Vuitton staging both retrospectives.

While Basquiat personified the rebellion of the young New York street artists of the 1980s who stormed the grand galleries, Schiele’s erotic charge exploded out of the city where Freud was challenging taboos about sex and developing his theories of psychoanalysis.

The heads and bodies they painted show “the human being from the interior to the exterior”, Page told AFP.

“Both were prolific and had protean talent, both were on missions which went beyond them, both worked in deep waters,” she said.

Basquiat, who came from a mixed Haitian and Puerto Rican family, is now the most expensive American painter ever, with one of his skull paintings selling for $110.5 million (95 million euros) in New York last year.

Art market mania

It also holds the record price for an artwork created anywhere since 1980.

That canvas, “Untitled”, was bought by the former Japanese pop star and internet tycoon Yusaku Maezawa and is part of the Paris show of some 100 of his works.

A square in the French capital was also named after Basquiat last weekend.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
An artwork by US artist Jean-Michel Basquiat at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris. JACQUES DEMARTHON/afp

And on Tuesday night at the show’s private view, Hollywood star Owen Wilson rubbed shoulders with footballer David Beckham and the painter’s family.

Such is the demand for his work that one-fifth of the 100 most expensive paintings sold at auction in the last year have been Basquiats, according to the Artprice index.

Basquiat died aged 27 of a drug overdose in 1988 after eight years of intense creativity after Andy Warhol spotted his poetic, provocative and humorous tags.

He had begun with an aerosol can in his native Brooklyn and lower Manhattan as part of a duo called SAMO – their slang term for “the same old shit” of American society that they denounced.

Like Schiele he quit school early, and curator Dieter Buchhart said they also both shared a sharp “existential” line.

Although Basquiat has come to be seen as a penniless street artist raging against racism, the artist who gets regularly name-checked by rappers such as Jay-Z actually came from a well-off family and went to an expensive private school.

He was trilingual in Spanish, French and English by the age of four and had haunted the Big Apple’s museums with his mother from an equally early age.

Counterculture heroes

It was she who also gave him the anatomy book after he was knocked down by a car at age eight that would become the motor for his imagination, Page said.

“He was enormously cultured, high and low, taking in everything. Young people from all cultures really identify with that,” she said. “Basquiat never lost contact with the street and mixed the two up.”

Schiele – also known for his raw, unsparing self-portraits – lived a year longer than Basquiat, dying at 28 during the Spanish flu pandemic that was sweeping a war-weakened Europe.

The raw sexuality of his work and his focus on sex and death made him notorious and landed him in prison condemned as a pornographer.

His wife Edith, who was pregnant, died three days before him also of the disease, and his final works were sketches of her.

Basquiat too “hardly had time to live”, French art critic Christian Noorbergen told AFP. “But he challenged art in every way, raging against racism and all the conformities that crushed real life.

“His assault on cultural barriers was staggering, scary and sublime,” he added.

The shows, which are being staged separately at the Foundation Louis Vuitton, run until January 14.

MOST VIEWED

  • NY sisters inspired by Khmer heritage

    Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Cambodian-American sisters Edo and Eyen Chorm have always felt a deep affinity for their Cambodian heritage and roots. When the pair launched their own EdoEyen namesake jewellery brand in June, 2020, they leaned heavily into designs inspired by ancient Khmer

  • Omicron patients can stay home: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has given the green light for anyone who contracts the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron mutation or any other variant to convalesce or receive treatment at home or in any other reasonable non-healthcare setting. The new decision supersedes a restriction on home care for

  • Cambodia records first Omicron community case

    The Ministry of Health on January 9 reported 30 new Covid-19 cases, 29 of which were imported and all were confirmed to be the Omicron variant. The ministry also reported 11 recoveries and no new deaths. Earlier on January 9, the ministry also announced that it had detected the Kingdom's

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • Cambodia’s first ever anime festival kicks off Jan 22 at capital’s F3 centre

    Phnom Penh's first ever Anime Festival will bring together fans, artists, shops and other local businesses with ties to the Japanese animation style for cosplay competitions, online games, pop-up shops and more on January 22, with Friends Futures Factory (F3) hosting. F3 is a project that

  • PM eyes Myanmar peace troika

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has suggested that ASEAN member states establish a tripartite committee or diplomatic troika consisting of representatives from Cambodia, Brunei and Indonesia that would be tasked with mediating a ceasefire in Myanmar. The premier also requested that Nippon Foundation chairman Yohei Sasakawa