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Basquiat – the artist and his New York scene


February 2nd ’till June 2nd 2019 – Schunck*, Heerlen NL
featuring works of Jean-Michel Basquiat


I can’t believe how time flies! Just a couple of weeks ago I visited the Basquiat-exhibit at Schunck*, a multidisciplinary cultural meeting place that combines an architectural institute, a collection of modern and contemporary art, a public library, a movie theatre and a school of music and dance in Heerlen (NL), and now I suddenly realise that after this weekend this exhibit will be over. So no time to waste; I better finish this review so you still got time to go and see it too!


Of course I knew Basquiat and some of his work, but to be honest I never really digged deep into this artist’s work and life. Therefore the night before I went to see ‘the artist and his New York scene’ I did watch the beautiful documentary ‘Basquiat: Rage to Riches’ (watch this documentary online for free here), which details how the young Jean-Michel rose from a self-taught artist to be one of the greatest painters on the international art scene. Afterwards I felt totally psyched to go see his paintings and art for real!


Just like the documentary I watched at home, ‘Basquiat – the artist and his New York scene’ tells the story of the young Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988). It shows his development in the early 1980s in New York; from graffiti tags to the mindblowingly beautiful paintings he’s best known for. The exhibition follows different stages of his young life, shows his living environment in lots of pictures, pages from notepads and some crazy art(ifacts), next to work by New York contemporaries. The show concludes with four of Basquiat’s masterpieces that already catch your eye when you enter the exhibition.


At the exhibition the documentary ‘Boom for real – the late teenage years of Jean-Michel Basquiat‘ can be watched. Just like the documentary I did watch at home, ‘Boom for real’ examines the exact period the exhibition addresses. Since it lasts 78 minutes and it’s shown in a stairwell, which means you have to sit on uncomfortable stairs all that time, I decided to skip this part of the exhibition. Later I found out the documentary can also be watched at the second floor of Schunck*, so in case you’d like to watch the full documentary you might like to check out the movie theatre instead of the stairs.


trailer of ‘BOOM FOR REAL, The late teenage years of Jean-Michel Basquiat’


In general I’d say that an exhibit of such a famous and talented artist should definitely be visited. But if I’m being honest, I have to admit that the exhibit disappointed me a bit. Both the city of Heerlen and the Limburg Province started to advertise it such a long time ago, so my expectations were high when I went to see it.


Of course I did expect (pictures of) his early work, like graffiti tags and sketches, next to background info and pictures of his life. But honestly, quite a lot of the showcased pictures and the many notebook pages, containing sometimes just one sentence or even one word written by the artist, didn’t really do it for me. I guess the exhibit does breathe the New York 80s vibe and gives us an impression of the surroundings and the life of this young artist, but I’d personally rather seen more of his canvases and drawings instead of the many pictures and knick knacks that are exhibited at the expo. Maybe my expectations were wrong, I’d just hoped to see more of Basquiat’s canvases and drawings.


‘Basquiat – the artist and his New York scene’ closes its doors Sunday June 2nd, so don’t wait any longer and go see it now!