Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks. The Brooklyn Museum

Every artist is a notebook-Ira Joel Haber

This very elegant and nicely installed show turns out to be a very minor exhibition of the late painter's notebooks. This is really scraping the Basquiat barrel, and a misplaced curatorial decision to shine a light on his “unknown notebooks” that indeed should have remained unknown. That said I've always liked and sometimes even loved his paintings, and thankfully there are a few included here. But the show's main focus is on his notebook pages that are mainly page after boring page of words, jots, lists and other tedious and dull writings that are dead on arrival and set out in their fancy vitrines (coffins) as if they were manuscript pages from T.S. Elliot or John Grisham. Its amazing to me the great lengths that curators will sometimes go to make even the most minor works appear interesting and important, especially after the artist is dead and buried, and especially if that artist dies young and to some tragically. This show is a sad example of that curatorial approach. There is simply not enough here to convince someone who is not familiar with his work why Basquiat matters, why he was an exciting and original artist. The notebook pages with drawings and visual marks on them along with some paintings and constructions give us a clue, but overall the general feeling of viewing these “unknown” left me tired and bored, they best belong in a book where if anyone cares to they can ponder the meanings of his youthful poetry and lists.…/basquiat_notebooks/


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