Matisse, Picasso, Twombly
July 1 – September 29, 2019
The exhibition presented at the Collection Lambert returns to the sources of the raw energy in Jean-Michel Basquiat’s painting, questioning the uniqueness of his art, as visceral as it is self-aware, that quickly surpasses its own specificities, and the dazzling talent that quickly surpasses its own specificities, and the dazzling talent of a young prodigy to symbolize, in themselves, new ways of approaching the art of the 80s.
When Jean-Michel Basquiat kicked open the doors of the art world in the early 1980s, it was with incredible audacity; that of a young artist of Haitian descent who, at a time when painting had been declared dead and buried, made it the essential medium of representation. With this cadaver and its Areopagus of sublime ghosts, he covered the walls of the most distinguished galleries, opening their doors to new ways of thinking and creating a countercultural generation nourished from a cultural melting pot; from the appropriation of myths and the great masters of the past; to the blending of references from great art and subcultures, drawing as much from the vernacular as from great classics with elation and unparalleled energy.
In the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat, sources intermingle with exceptional intuition and knowledge. This is not simply a young man of his times who, like a DJ, selects the most interesting forms from the repertory and moves them around in new creative spaces according to his whims. He is an enlightened artist who, at a time when modernity is almost inexorably extinguished, questions its forms and its promises in one ultimate gesture, as sensitive as it is affected, from the viewpoint of a young black American who could be its final messenger.
He borrows part of his formal vocabulary primarily from Picasso, Matisse then Twombly, especially in their more primitive facets. The will to return to a raw, elemental feeling led him to consider Matisse and Picasso for the celebration of original, exotic, regenerative forms. From them he drew a fondness for primary colours, the fragmentation of subjects, disturbing faces, the dissonance of colours and shapes and modest, artisanal compositions or objects. Moreover, like Matisse, Picasso and Twombly, he takes his distance from cold virtuosity, preferring naivety and gaucheness, to restore the pure energy of art that leads to the sublime, offering artworks that are as sensitive as they are militant.
By this audacious gesture which places him in a truly remarkable genealogy, alongside the great names of modern art, Jean-Michel Basquiat also puts the promises of dying modernity to the test. Through his relation to art history, the art world and America in the 80s, he questions the political situation of a cynical, fragmented world. For Jean-Michel Basquiat’s paintings are such mixed territories where Matisse, Picasso, Twombly, Charlie Parker, Cassius Clay, Mooglie, street poetry and so many other symbolic black figures intermingle. They are the promise of new spaces for sensitive representation, as they struggle against the difficulty of existing at a distance from the exoticism they so joyfully mythicized, as though to annihilate.
– ADMINISTRATION JEAN MATISSE, PARIS
– CENTRE NATIONAL DES ARTS PLASTIQUES, PARIS
– GALERIE ENRICO NAVARRA, PARIS
– MUSÉE D’ART MODERNE DE BELFORT
– MUSÉE NATIONAL PICASSO, PARIS
– COLLECTION PIERRE CORNETTE DE SAINT-CYR, PARIS – FRANK DESTRIBATS
– ÈVE LAMBERT, PARIS
– YVON LAMBERT, PARIS
– LIO MALCA, NEW YORK
– COLLECTION DANIÈLE THOMPSON ET ALBERT KOSKI
– Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jeanine Basquiat, Lisane Basquiat, and Nora Fitzpatrick for their decisive involvement. – Enrico Navarra and the Galerie Enrico Navarra for their invaluable help in organizing the exhibition and publishing the catalogue.