New Banksy Graffiti Celebrates Barbican Basquiat Exhibition
Two new pieces of street art have been installed on the walls of London’s Barbican Centre by Banksy. Celebrating the arts centre’s forthcoming Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibition, his graffiti mixes the iconic New York artist’s signature style with his own classic stencil work.
But, this being Banksy, there is a duality to the work. The Barbican, despite being one of the UK’s foremost creative hubs and known internationally for supporting artistic talent in a variety of fields, has a zero tolerance policy towards graffiti.
Whilst now often regarded as an exponent of fine, contemporary art, Basquiat started as a graffiti pioneer who came up through the influential underground art scene of 1980’s New York. He was part of a leading graff movement and first started exhibiting his works by installing them on the walls of New York’s SoHo, around major art galleries, so that influential gallery owners and art collectors would see them.
It seems the irony of this is not lost on Banksy who captioned a photo of one of his new works on Instagram: ‘Major new Basquiat show opens at the Barbican – a place that is normally very keen to clean any graffiti from its walls.’
Another aspect that can be read into the thought-provoking piece of a Basquiat figure being subject to a ‘stop and search’ encounter with the police, is the subject of racism. This, and how race is portrayed, were frequent themes of African-American Jean-Michel Basquiat’s work. On posting a photograph of the work to his Instagram account, Banksy captioned the image: ‘Portrait of Basquiat being welcomed by the Metropolitan Police – an (unofficial) collaboration with the new Basquiat show.’
Boom For Real is the first large scale exhibition of Basquiat’s work and explores his full body of work, from graffiti to fine art. It also documents the artist’s part in the influential pop art movement and his friendship with collaborator Andy Warhol, through contemporary Maripol’s polaroids.
Basquiat: Boom For Real runs from 21st September 2017 to 28th January 2018 at the Barbican Art Gallery.