Basquiat’s Defacement: The Untold Story is Slated to Open at Guggenheim


From the 21st of June to the 6th of November 2019, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City will present Basquiat’s Defacement: The Untold Story. The Basquiat’s Defacement: The Untold Story exhibition will examine the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat and his contemporaries from the lens of their cultural and racial identity and social activism.

Basquiat’s Defacement: The Untold Story is Slated to Open at Guggenheim

The exhibitions will start from the painting Defacement (The Death of Michael Stewart) which was created by Basquiat. He created it to pay tribute to Michael Stewart another black artist. Michael Stewart died at 25 of cardiac arrest after being in a 13 days after his arrest by New York City Transit Police. He was arrested for spray-painting graffiti on a New York City Subway wall. The exhibit will be organized by guest curator Chaédria LaBouvier, in collaboration with Nancy Spector, Artistic Director and Jennifer and David Stockman Chief Curator, and Joan Young, Director of Curatorial Affairs.

About Jean-Michel Basquiat

Jean-Michel Basquiat was an American painter of Haitian and Puteo Rican Descent. He was a Neo-Expressionist painter in the 1980s, he was born in 1960 in Brooklyn New York. He sold sweatshirts and postcards featuring his artwork on the streets before his painting career took off. Basquiat died of a drug overdose when he was 27 years old. Some of his most well-known and Popular work include SAMO Graffit, Ten Punching Bags and Flexible.

Basquiat’s Defacement: The Untold Story is Slated to Open at Guggenheim

About the Basquiat’s Defacement: The Untold Story Exhibition

The Basquiat’s Defacement: The Untold Story exhibition will have about twenty paintings and works on paper by Basquiat and his contemporaries. It will look into Basquiat’s exploration of Black identity, his protest against police brutality, and construction of a unique aesthetic language of empowerment. The exhibit will also examine his engagement with police misconduct. It will demonstrate his adaptation of crowns as symbols for the canonization of historical Black figures.

The exhibit will also feature materials that relate to Stewart’s death. Materials like diaries protest posters plus sample artwork from Stewarts estates. There will also be paintings and prints created by other artists in response to Stewart’s death.  The exhibit will feature response of other artist to the subsequent criminal trial of the police officers that were charged in his killing. Some of the works form other artist you should expect to see are:

  • Haring’s Michael Stewart—U.S.A. for Africa (1985)
  • Andy Warhol’s screen-printed “headline” paintings from 1983 incorporating a New York Daily News article on Stewart’s death;
  • David Hammons’s stencilled print titled The Man Nobody Killed(1986)
  • Lyle Ashton Harris’s photographic portrait Saint Michael Stewart(1994) and many more


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