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From December to April, the NGV is hosting an unprecedented, world-premier exhibition showcasing the intersections between the work of two of America’s most influential artists – Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Friends and occasional collaborators, both men had short yet prolific careers, defining the groundbreaking art scene of 1980’s New York. Although starkly different at a glance – Basquiat’s work is classified as Neo-expressionism and Haring’s pop and graffiti art – their work shows commonality in socio-political commentary, use of idiosyncratic imagery and recurring motifs (Haring; the radiant baby, Basquiat; the crown). Curated by Austrian art historians and critics Dieter Buchhart and Anna Karina Hofbauer, the exhibition will feature more than 300 works – from paintings and sculptures and to photos, videos and never before released journal entries. It’s an exhibition that is sure to stay with you for many years.
Both men began their careers as graffiti artists, although Haring was formally trained while Basquiat was completely self taught. Discovered on the streets of New York, Basquiat was soon embraced by a crowd of A-list artists and celebrities, including the likes of Yoko Uno, Andy Warhol, Madonna and Grace Jones. Later, Warhol would go on to become a close friend and mentor to both men. With a shared passion for political activism – Haring for gay rights and Basquiat for black rights – they used their work and influence to tackle some of the most prevailing issues of the ‘80s. Devastatingly, both men died young, and within 2 months of one another, making the exhibition all the more important. This year, Basquiat’s untitled painting of a grinning skull was sold to Yusaka Maezawa for $110.5m, becoming the world’s most expensive American artwork. You can see that on exhibition too.
Book your tickets here.