Legendary genius “Basquiat” Exhibition at Bayeler Foundation Museum

Jean-Michel Basquiat in his studio at the Great Jones Street, New York, 1985
In front of Untitled, 1985, Acrylic and oilstick on wood, 217 x 275,5 x 30,5 cm (detail)
Private Collection, Photo: Lizzie Himmel© © 2010, ProLitteris, Zürich

If Jean-Michel Basquiat were alive, he would be 50 years old.

Basquiat was born in a Caribbean immigrant family, and he suddenly appeared in the art world from the underground world of New York, just like a sudden explosion of hot air.

He was invited to “Documenta,” a contemporary art exhibition, held in Kassel, Germany in 1982, which made his sensational debut. To explain how sensational that was, is just like, for example, a 21-year old unknown artist was invited to a biennale.

Having this opportunity as a momentum, and as soon as the top galleries in New York City started to recognize his work, he climbed to the summit of the worl

d’s top artist at a furious speed.

It was when Basquiat was 22 years old. Ernst Beyeler, the founder of Bayeler Foundation, invited him over for the exhibition entitled, “Expressive Painting after Picasso.”
Basquiat loved Europe, and since then he traveled to Italy and France quite often. Especially he loved Switzerland and occasionally stayed longer to create many artworks.

Bruno Bishofberger, a famous gallerist in Zurich who collected the works of Basquiat, introduced him to Andy Warhol in 1983 and later to Francesco Clemente to suggest collatorations. These collaborative creations ended up to be a ciritical part of the works of Basquiat in his later years.

Those who shared activities in the same era are; Fab 5 zfreddy, Vincent Gallo, Keith Haring, Debbie Harry, Madonna and so on.
Extremely outstanding gifted talent, symbolizing such an era, also enhanced his charisma further more.

Completely ignoring the class system of the white society or any academic rules, and inspired by everyday events, he continued to create works with a passionate power, making us wonder when he had ever slept.

A year after the death of Warhol, Basquiat suddenly left this world due a drug overdose. He was only 27.

He was a painter, actor, poet, musician, and a graffiti artist. He was active from the latter part of 70s until mid 80s, only 10 years.

He contibuted his works to dynamic porjects at The Whitney Museum of American Art and The Museum of Modern Art(MoMA)in New York City, Centre National d’Art et de Culture Georges Pompidou in Pairs and Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, as well as exhibitions of private collections for gallerists or collectors such as Bruno Bishofberger.

“BASQIAT,” the first large-scle European exhibition is being held at Bayeler Foundation Museum, which consists of more than 150 pieces of paintings, drawings, objects and films.

The glass ceiling by Renzo Piano receives and accepts the summer sunshine, and brings into the venue just like filtered soft light. Whenever the clouds in the sky move, the light changes, and so do the beat and heat emitted from huge artworks.

Comments written for the catalogue by Keller, Director of the Museum, and the curator, Dieter Buchhart, are quuite brilliant and impressive. This collection book is also full of respect for Basquiat, same as the exhibition.

Until September 5, 2010.


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Less expected but Powerful Success


Art Basel, the world’s largest art fair held in June every year, celebrated its 40th birthday this year.
More than 300 world’s topnotch galleries strictly selected from 29 countries out of more than 800 galleries around the world, gathered here in Basel. Works of approximately 2500 artists were exhibited and welcomed 61000 visitors in total.

The three-dimensional object placed almost in the center of the venue is brought from Presenhuber, a gallery in Zurich. It was a work by VALLENTIN CARRON, a humongous black cross that stood straight up in the blue sky of early summer.

Swiss newspaper, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, commented, “In front of the exhibition building at Basel a black cross towers to the sky, as if the Art Basel would be brought to a grave at its 40th birthday. But the fatal event did not happen!” and reported a great success despite the effects of the sluggish economy.

Brad Pitt in jeans dropped in casually, and Gunter Netzer, a soccer player living in Zurich showed up, and Naomi Campbell and Karl Lagerfeld came as a couple. All the shots were flown around the world the following day of the Preview. Ultrarich Russian, Roman Abramovich, was one of the visitors, as well as the directors of the world’s major art galleries, including, of course, MOMA, Pompidou and the Louvre. Private jets carried all the top-class collectors around the world to this venue in Basel.


Galerie Bernd Klüser | Müchen
Galerie Karsten Greve | Koeln

Galerie Karsten Greve | Koeln

Although there are less number of galleries from the USA compared to the last year, the list contains big names such as Blum & Poe, Matthew Marks Gallery, Richard Gray Gallery and so on.
As we expected, those that still have effective magnetic attraction and raises the overall quality are galleries from Berlin, although they dominate in number as well. For example, nuegerriemschneider, Esther Schipper, Galerie Max Hetzler, Galerie Eigen + Art. Others include Kewenig Galerie from Cologne, and Galerie Bernd Klüser from Munich.
Regulars from London are White Cube and Stephen Friedman Gallery. Others include Galerie Hopkins-Custot from Paris where Basquiat and Milo vividly stand side by side, and Hans Bellmer or Picabia. This is Galeria 1900-2000 that includes old masters. Kurimazutto from Mexico City stands out for its high level of quality.
From Japan, Toio Koyama Gallery, Gallery Koyanagi, SCAI THE BATHHOUSE, ShartugoArts, and Taka Ishii Gallery joined this year as well.

In the neighboring Art Unlimited, the exhibition is categorized by the name of creator and the artwork. Photographs, video works, as well as paintings, installations or huge 3-dimentional works are displayed. Any possible artworks in any possible forms are presented here.
Lot of visitors go in and out of a small house, Torre de Málaga, created by Michitomo Nara, and it is one of the most popular artworks here.

kurimanzutto | México City
Bharti Kher, Hauser & Wirth Zuerich | Zuerich, London

Bharti Kher, Hauser & Wirth Zuerich | Zuerich, London


Franz Erhard Walther 55Handlungsbahnen, Galeria Vera Munro | Hambulg


Yoshitomo Nara Torre de Málaga, Marianne Boesky Gallery New York; Blum & Poe | Los Angeles; Tomio Koyama | Tokyo

Bruno Bischofberger | Zürich

By the way, it is not well known that Zurich is, as a matter of fact, one of the principal hubs of modern art, such as Pairs, London and New York. However, it is a city that has developed various activities in the art history in the 20th century, especially from the middle of the 19th century, together with Basel where the Art Fair has been held.

Hauser & Wirth Zürich, Peter Kilchmann, and May36 from Zurich, have demonstrated surprising plans as we had expected. The strategy by Bruno Bishofger was to exhibit only 1 artwork “Big Retrospective Paintin 1979” by Andy Warhal. The artwork of 207×1080cm occupied the whole wall, and some chairs were placed so that visitors can sit and view the artwork. Prior to the preview, even locally, it was a big topic that who would purchase it. Just for your reference, the price was 80 million Swiss Franc, or approximately 7 billion yen. After the exhibition, lot of gallerists published comments. Bob van Orsow  of Zurich mentioned in one newspaper interview, “The Art Basel is the queen of the art exhibitions. The gallery does not expect ‘quick’ customers, and nobody would like to be asked, whether he hasn’t bought any art.”

However, this queen is noble, beautiful and very clever. She has a great eye for art, can read the times, and she is a serious and dynamic strategist equipped with the marketing abilities that can lead the market.

While the visitors saw “Foundation Beyeler” as the first booth on the right when you entered the first floor of the venue, which gave the prestigious impression to start with, noble tension and intellectual restraint were felt in the overall atmosphere of the floor.

Each gallery booth demonstrated very sophisticated show that could open its door right on the following day at any international city in the world, as it was as an exhibition. If not successful, they might have to forget about the next year. Therefore, every gallery had strong concept and clearly displayed its theme. They were provocative for the viewers.

Art 40 Basel has been recognized as a humongous success despite the low expectations. Guesstimated figures of the sales are still up in the air.

Various people who are involved in modern art, such as artists, top collectors, curators and media, gathered together or encountered for the first time. It appeared like having a big wave of the times that brought about the leading-edge interchange of art-related people.

It was different from last year or the year before. Especially the expressions by the gallerist gave us a sense of something different. Having read the press releases, I found the hint of this difference in this year’s fair. “Art 40 Basel witnesses a return to the roots of the art market. Knowledge, sustainability and seriousness move back to the foreground and the program-driven galleries especially benefit from this phenomenon.” Mathias Rastorfer, Galerie Gmurzynska,” said Mathias Rastonfer Galerie Gmurzynska, Zurich/St.Moriz/Zug



Photos by Art 40 Basel 2009


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Art 40 Basel _Art Basel

Open to public from June 10, 2009.


Art Basel, the world’s biggest art fair that is held in June every year. Artworks from North and South America,Europe, Asia and Africa are brought here. Approximately 300 leading galleries around the world gather together here,and display and sell the works from contemporary to modern art created by more than 2500 artists.

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