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.