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How Basquiat Earned His Crown (2022)

podcast March 9, 2023

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Jean-Michel Basquiat was an iconic American artist who rose to fame in the downtown New York City cultural scene of the late 1970s and early 80s. Today, Basquiat’s legacy looms over us, larger than ever. His images and symbols grace Uniqlo t-shirts and Tiffany & Co jewelry campaigns. In 2017, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s powerful 1982 painting of a skull was purchased for $110.5 million, becoming the sixth most expensive work ever sold at auction.

But has Basquiat’s pop cultural significance eclipsed the artist’s place in art history? 

For Into America, Trymaine Lee spoke with Basquiat’s former bandmate and friend, Michael Holman, about the young artist’s coming of age in 1980s New York and the crisis of Basquiat’s archive with American art historian Dr. Jordana Saggese. And finally we take a trip to Basquiat’s childhood and speak with Basquiat’s younger sisters, Jeanine Heriveaux and Lisane Basquiat, to unfold their early relationship and an exhibition King Pleasure they have curated in honor of their late brother.

(Original release date: April 28, 2022)

The exhibition will be on display at the Grand in downtown LA starting March 31st. “Jean-Michel Basquiat: King Pleasure” features over 200 works, and includes recreations of the Basquiat family home in Brooklyn, Jean-Michel’s studio on Great Jones Street, and the VIP room at Palladium nightclub, as it was in the late 1980s.

Special thanks to Dr Mark Anthony Neal for his research support.  

For a transcript, please visit msnbc.com/intoamerica

Follow and share the show on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, all with the handle @intoamericapod.

Thoughts? Feedback? Story ideas? Write to us at intoamerica@nbcuni.com.

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