In the summer of 1982, Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960–1988) travelled to Modena in Italy. Gallery owner Emilio Mazzoli had invited the 21-year-old New York artist to produce new works on site for a solo exhibition. Within a few days, Basquiat painted eight large-format canvases, some of them now among his most celebrated and valuable works. In the end, however, the planned exhibition did not go ahead and the works were never shown together. More than 40 years later, all the “Modena Paintings”, which are now held in collections in the United States, Asia and Switzerland, are being displayed together for the very first time.
The Modena cycle stands at the beginning of Basquiat’s career. The paintings display Basquiat’s typically colourful and expressive pictorial idiom. They further share several motifs and stylistic features marking them out as a cohesive group within Basquiat’s oeuvre that is key to understanding his work.
The exhibition provides a unique opportunity to experience some of Basquiat’s most celebrated and valuable paintings within the full ensemble they were originally conceived as.