“Decorated Suit” by Keith Haring and LA2
Basquiat fans, beware—this is not an exhibition dedicated solely to the artist. Instead, Writing the Future: Basquiat and the Hip-Hop Generation is a celebration of his work in relation to his peers. And it’s the first major exhibition to conceptualize Jean-Michel Basquiat’s work in this way. “The group exhibition features 12 artists, all of whom in the 1980s transitioned their work from the street to the studio and onto canvas in the gallery setting,” explains co-curator Liz Munsell. “These were artists who were up against many barriers to entry, and they fought their way into the contemporary art scene using their own forms of cultural expression. And that story really hasn’t been told through a museum exhibition before.”
A leather jacket tagged by Jean-Michel Basquiat and his fellow street artists
In order to fully tell the tale, Munsell could not ignore the simultaneous emergence of hip-hop culture. “Early hip-hop was really a multidisciplinary movement, so we’ll have works across disciplines, including fashion, sculpture and music,” says Munsell. “We’re super excited,” she says. “I think it’ll be an exhibition that hopefully creates somewhat of a bridge between the street art and the fine art community, and also gives all of these artists the due that they’re owed because they for so long have been called graffiti artists. And I think they’re actually just artists, and we should look at their work as such.” [Editor's note: the MFA is temporarily closed due to COVID-19. Check mfa.org for updates].
Photography by: Hubert Kretzschmar; Courtesy of the Keith Haring Foundation