From April 5 to August 28, 2023, the Foundation will exhibit its examination of Jean-Michel Basquiat's oeuvre, exposing his partnership with Andy Warhol.
Between 1984 and 1985, Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988) and Andy Warhol (1928-1987) collaborated on around 160 paintings “à quatre mains,” including some of the largest works produced throughout their respective careers. Keith Haring (1958-1990), who watched their friendship and cooperative production, would later speak of a “conversation occurring through painting, rather of words,” and of two minds uniting to create a “third distinct and unique thought.”
“Basquiat x Warhol. Painting 4 Hands” will be the most major exhibition ever dedicated to this amazing body of work, opening this spring. The exhibition, curated by Dieter Buchhart and Anna Karina Hofbauer in collaboration with Olivier Michelon, curator of the Fondation Louis Vuitton, will feature over 300 works and papers, including 80 paintings jointly signed by the two artists. Individual pieces by each will be included, as well as a group of works by other significant artists (Keith Haring, Jenny Holzer, Kenny Scharf, Michael Halsband…) to recall the intensity of the 1980s New York downtown art scene. The exhibition will be supplemented and interwoven with photographs, including Michael Halsband’s iconic “Boxing Gloves” series, which he created for the poster of the Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol exhibition in 1985.
The show will begin with a series of portraits of Basquiat by Warhol and of Basquiat by Warhol. It will carry on with the initial cooperation. These paintings profited from a partnership with the Italian artist Francesco Clemente, which was launched by the two artists’ dealer, Bruno Bischofberger (born in 1952). Following the completion of these fifteen paintings with Clemente, Basquiat and Warhol continued their collaboration virtually everyday, with passion and intimacy. The show will be driven by the fire and force of their constant interactions, which will be visible in pieces such as Ten Punching Bags (Last Supper) and the 10-meter-long canvas African Mask.
Basquiat regarded Warhol as an elder, a crucial figure in the art world, and the creator of a new vocabulary and a pioneering interaction with pop culture. In turn, Warhol discovered in Basquiat a revitalized enthusiasm in painting. He was able to return to painting on a huge scale by hand thanks to him. Warhol’s subjects (newspapers, General Electric, Paramount, and Olympic Games logos) serve as the foundation for a whole series of artworks that will be displayed throughout the exhibition.
“Andy would start one (painting) and put something very recognizable on it, or a product logo, and I would sort of deface it. Then I would try to get him to work some more on it, I would try to get him to do at least two things” explained Basquiat. “I drew it first and then I painted it like Jean-Michel. I think those paintings we’re doing together are better when you can’t tell who did which parts” noted Warhol.
The exhibition will show these back and forths – a dialogue of styles and forms that also tackles crucial subjects such as the integration of the African-American community into the narrative of North-America – a continent in which Warhol was a leading manufacturer of icons.