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Basquiat, Jean-Michel - Guggenheim New York

Basquiat’s “Defacement”: The Untold Story
A tightly focused, thematic exhibition of work by Jean-Michel Basquiat , supplemented with work by others of his generation, will explore a formative chapter in the artist’s career through the lens of his identity and the role of cultural activism in New York City during the early 1980s. The exhibition takes as its starting point the painting Defacement (The Death of Michael Stewart) (1983), which Basquiat created to commemorate the fate of the young, black artist Michael Stewart at the hands of New York City’s transit police after allegedly tagging a wall in an East Village subway station. Originally painted on the wall of Keith Haring’s studio, Defacement was not meant to be seen publicly or enter the art market. With approximately twenty paintings and works on paper created in the years surrounding Stewart’s death, this presentation will examine Basquiat’s exploration of black identity, his protest against police brutality, and his attempts to craft a singular, aesthetic language of empowerment. Additional paintings by Basquiat will further illustrate his engagement with police misconduct, while others will demonstrate his adaptation of crowns as symbols for the canonization of historical black figures. (Text: Guggenheim Museum)