Pérez Art Museum Miami Presents First Major Exhibition Focused on Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Notebooks

Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks on View August 12–October 16, 2016

MIAMI August 3, 2016 – Beginning August 12 through October 16, 2016, Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) will present Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks, an exhibition showcasing Jean-Michel Basquiat’s rarely seen notebooks, filled with poetry fragments, wordplay, sketches and personal observations. These unique documents offer an intimate look to the artist’s oeuvre, embodying themes of street life, popular culture, world history, race and class. This exhibition features 160 notebook pages, related objects, works on paper and large-scale paintings. Complementing the exhibition, PAMM has added works from Miami including collaborative paintings made by Basquiat and Andy Warhol and other works that speak to the breadth of this important artist’s career.   

“We are thrilled to be able to host this important exhibition on a foundational period in the life of one of our country’s, and the world’s, greatest artists,” said PAMM Director Franklin Sirmans. “While the show opened appropriately in Brooklyn, where the artist was born, Miami is the perfect host for the conclusion of this show. Basquiat’s face is on murals in our city, a city which boasts Little Haiti and Little Havana, monikers for the country and city of those places not far away.”

Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960–1988), a cultural icon, is one of the most original, influential and prolific artists of his generation. Born in Brooklyn to a Haitian father and a Puerto Rican mother, Basquiat was raised in a cross-cultural and multilingual family becoming fluent in Haitian Creole, Spanish and English—languages that resonate within Miami’s cultural landscape. In the early 1980s, he rose quickly from teenage street artist to a celebrity in both the art scene and popular culture. He was a self-taught artist with encyclopedic and multicultural interests, influenced by comics, advertising, children's sketches, Pop art, hip-hop, politics and everyday life. He is best known for combining vibrant colors, abstract gestures and figuration with language, which often appears in his paintings and drawings in at least one of his three spoken languages. Basquiat’s handwritten texts are an integral part of his work, as these push the between language and drawing, as well as reveal the artist’s provocative cultural imaginary.

Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks emphasizes the artist’s distinct interplay of text and images, providing unprecedented insight into the importance of writing in the Basquiat’s process. The works in the exhibition render an intimate view to the artist’s ability to generate rhythm and poetics using words. The notebook pages contain early renderings of iconic imagery—tepees, crowns, skeleton-like figures and grimacing faces—that also appear throughout his large-scale works, including an early drawing related to his famous series, Famous Negro Athletes. Additionally, the exhibition at PAMM includes two paintings made in collaboration with Andy Warhol, exemplifying his collaborative relationship to this other artistic icon.

Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks provides a significant opportunity to view these remarkable notebooks up close, inviting new insights and perspectives on Basquiat’s art and his extraordinary talent of using “words like brushstrokes,” as he once famously said. In Miami, this is also an opportunity to reconsider Basquiat’s rich cultural background, familiar to our local context and expressed in his exceptional legacy.

Highlights from Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks include:

  • The Notebooks—Over a 160 pages of personal notebooks belonging to the artist, providing insight into Basquiat’s relationship to language and drawing, as well as his interest in addressing race, politics, and everyday subjects.
  • Untitled, 1983—A large-scale work, embodying the artist’s interest in masks, words and painting.
  • Untitled (Black), 1981—An earlier large-scale painting illustrating Basquiat’s fascination with colors, figuration and abstraction.
  • Untitled (Crown), 1982—A collage and drawing depicting the artist’s famous crown tag.
  • Famous Negro Athletes, 1981—An early drawing illustrating the artist’s interest in addressing the complexities of the black experience in contemporary culture.

Organization and Support
Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks is organized by the Brooklyn Museum and is curated by Dieter Buchhart, guest curator, with Tricia Laughlin Bloom, former Associate Curator of Exhibitions, Brooklyn Museum. The presentation of this exhibition at Pérez Art Museum Miami has been organized by Assistant Curator María Elena Ortiz. It has been made possible by the Italian Trade Agency and Salone del Mobile.Milano with additional support from Facebook. Lead individual support was received from Patricia Papper and Nedra and Mark Oren. Special thanks to Larry Warsh and Lio Malca. Support from Heineken is also gratefully acknowledged.
Logos of Italian Trade Agency and Salone del Mobile.Milano, Instagram, Facebook and Heineken.

Related Programs

Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks Museum Circle Preview Reception
Wednesday, August 10, 7-9pm
Pérez Art Museum Miami Museum Circle members are invited for an exclusive preview of the new special exhibition, Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks. Join us for live entertainment, cocktails and bites as we celebrate the exhibition.            Exclusively for Museum Circle members (Friend, Patron, Core Creative, Benefactor & above). Non-transferable. To join Museum Circle, visit pamm.org/support.

Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks Early Access Day for Members
Thursday, August 11, 10am-7pm         

PAMM Members are invited to preview the exhibition Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks before it opens to the public. To become a member, visit pamm.org/support.      

Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks Opening Celebration
Thursday, August 11, 7-10pm  
Celebrate the opening of Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks with an art talk by artist William Cordova followed by a discussion with PAMM Director Franklin Sirmans and PAMM Assistant Curator María Elena Ortiz. On the terrace, Tradisyon Lakou Lakay dance ensemble and DJ Gardy will perform a traditional Vodou-inspired dance accompanied by magical melodies and beautiful rhythmic roots music of Haiti, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, combined with retro electronic music. Free with museum admission ($16 for adults, PAMM members free).

DJ Gardy Girault and Tradisyon Lakou Lakay curated by Maximilian Consulting
To celebrate the opening of Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks, Tradisyon Lakou Lakay dance ensemble and DJ Gardy will perform a traditional Vodou-inspired dance accompanied by magical melodies and beautiful rhythmic roots music of Haiti, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, combined with retro electronic music.

Art Talk: rete fó: too fly 4 the swatter: o la síntesis de Jean-Michel Basquiat     
7-8pm (seating begins 6:45pm)         
In conjunction with the opening of Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks, artist William Cordova will discuss the art of Jean-Michel Basquiat in relation to Haitian Vodou flags, Puerto Rican political posters, and Nicolás Guillén Landrián’s cut-up celluloid cinema. The talk will be followed by a discussion with PAMM Director Franklin Sirmans and PAMM Assistant Curator María Elena Ortiz. Space is limited. First come, first seated.

About Pérez Art Museum Miami
Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) promotes artistic expression and the exchange of ideas, advancing public knowledge and appreciation of art, architecture and design, and reflecting the diverse community of its pivotal geographic location at the crossroads of the Americas. A 32-year-old South Florida institution formerly known as Miami Art Museum (MAM), Pérez Art Museum Miami opened a new building, designed by world-renowned architects Herzog & de Meuron, in Downtown Miami’s Museum Park on December 4, 2013. The facility is a state-of-the-art model for sustainable museum design and progressive programming and features 200,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor program space with flexible galleries; shaded outdoor verandas; a waterfront restaurant and bar; a museum shop; and an education center with a library, media lab and classroom spaces. For more information, please visit www.pamm.org, find us on Facebook (facebook.com/perezartmuseummiami), or follow us on Twitter (@pamm).


Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) is sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture. Support is provided by the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners. Additional support is provided by the City of Miami and the Miami OMNI Community Redevelopment Agency (OMNI CRA). Pérez Art Museum Miami is an accessible facility. All contents ©Pérez Art Museum Miami. All rights reserved.
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