Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks at PAMM

photo courtesy Perez Art Museum

On Thursday, August 11th, Perez Art Museum debuts the first major exhibition focused on Jean-Michel Basquiat’s notebooks titled Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks. The exhibition features 160 pages of Basquiat's rarely seen notebooks, filled with poetry fragments, wordplay, sketches, and personal observations ranging from street life and popular culture to themes of race, class, and world history.

Jean-Michel Basquiat is a self-taught American artist with encyclopedic and cross-cultural interests, who first gained notoriety as New York graffiti artist in the late 1970s. He was heavily influenced by comics, advertising, children's sketches, Pop art, hip-hop, politics, and everyday life – themes that he expressed later through his paintings. 

Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks emphasizes the distinct use of text and image in the artist's work, showcasing the importance of writing to his process. The notebook pages on display contain early renderings of iconic Basquiat imagery—tepees, crowns, skeleton-like figures, and grimacing faces—that also appear throughout his large-scale works.

Related works on paper and large-scale paintings will also be on display. The exhibit is organized by the Brooklyn Museum, and a fully illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition. 

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Purchase tickets here.