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Galerie Magazine

Jean-Michel Basquiat
Brett as a Negro, 1982
Acrylic on tiling glued on plywood

Photography by Tom Powel Imaging. © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar

By Paul Laster

The arrival of spring brings with it a slew of incredible exhibitions by some of the most important artists, from Jean-Michel Basquiat to Dorothea Tanning.

Focusing a lens on the best exhibitions in art galleries across America each month, Galerie now pinpoints a selection of stellar solo shows in New York this April. From Genesis Tramaine’s painterly portrayals of religious saints and Marina Abramovic╠ü’s video portraits of her MoMA sitters to Walton Ford’s giant watercolors of mythical creatures and Jean-Michel Basquiat’s energetic artworks on street finds, New York is bursting with great shows to see this spring.

A self-taught artist, Jean-Michel Basquiat initially painted on whatever materials he could find on the street and turned that DIY, altered found object style of creativity into one of the most recognizable trademarks of his unconventional body of artworks. After exhibitions that have focused on his uses of language, historical subject matter and celebrity, the survey “Art and Objecthood”—finely curated by Basquiat scholar Dr. Dieter Buchhart—highlights the artist’s energetic, assisted readymades. Symbolic portraits, such as Brett as Negro—expressively capturing artist Brett De Palma’s likeness on green bathroom tiles—and Untitled (Mary Boone), which places the art dealer’s name under a crown on a punching bag, expose Basquiat’s biting wit, while paintings on hinged doors, bedheads and scraps of wood reveal his inventiveness. From doodles on refrigerators and file cabinets to spray-painted and brushed imagery on foam and packing blankets, the show presents a studio of the street, where one man’s trash become another man’s treasure.