Photos

Unseen Photos Chronicle the Complex Friendship of Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat

The upcoming book 'Warhol on Basquiat' offers a fascinating look at the lives of two modern art icons.

by Ellis Jones
May 24 2019, 2:44pm

Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol at The Rockefeller Center, September 19, 1985. © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

VICE U.K. originally published this article.

The life of an artist has always been an enviable one to me: solitary days spent in a studio (always a loft space, always brightly lit, always wearing an oversized, paint-speckled utilitarian jumpsuit) creating something you want to create—and, in some cases, you’re paid handsomely for it.

There can be fame—but presumably not so extreme that you can’t leave the house without being followed by paparazzi—and there can be vast fortune; Jeff Koons' "Rabbit" sculpture recently sold for $91.1 million, the highest amount paid for a living artist’s work.

Of course, that lifestyle has its downsides, like the crushing pressure to create something unique, something of importance. But that can all sound pretty enticing for someone, like myself, who sits in an office and types on a computer for eight hours a day.

All this is to say: The upcoming book Warhol on Basquiat, an intimate look at the lives of two modern art icons, cements my attraction to that world.

Containing hundreds of unseen photos, excerpts from the Andy Warhol Diaries and collaborative works by the artists, the book is a fascinating chronicle not only of the complex relationship between Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat, but also of 1980s downtown New York. Many photos feel intimate and casual—in one, Basquiat stands behind Warhol, arms lightly wrapped around his waist; in another, Warhol looks on as a shirtless Basquiat lifts weights. In many ways it feels like a scrapbook you’d make while in college, documenting your life and that of your friends, if your friends happened to be Keith Haring, Fab Five Freddy, Grace Jones, and Madonna.

The book is absorbing, vast, and immensely entertaining. Below are a few of our favorite images.

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Basquiat at Yanna’s nail salon, August 29, 1983. © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.
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Warhol and Basquiat in Warhol's studio, August 15, 1983. © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.
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Basquiat painting Untitled at Warhol's studio at 860 Broadway, April 16, 1984. © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.
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Keith Haring, Warhol, and Basquiat at Warhol's studio at 860 Broadway, April 23, 1984. © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.
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Basquiat in a Milan hotel room, October 8, 1983. © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.
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Warhol and Basquiat painting Problems at Warhol's studio at 860 Broadway, March 27, 1984. © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.
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Basquiat and Warhol outside the Mary Boone Gallery on West Broadway, May 3, 1984. © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.
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Warhol on Basquiat will be available on June 3, from Taschen.

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