When The Travel Junkie Met Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat In Melbourne

Thetraveljunkie.org – We went to the world premiere exhibition, the National Gallery of Victoria presents the work of two of the most significant and influential artists of the late twentieth century in Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines.

The exhibition ends on the 13 April 2020 at the National Gallery of Victoria.

This exhibition offers new and fascinating insights into their unique visual languages and reveals, for the first time, the many intersections between their lives, practices and ideas.

The exhibition was really interesting. It had a nice range of styles and unique the art world of the 1980s through their idiosyncratic imagery, radical ideas and complex socio-political commentary, creating an indelible legacy that continues to influence contemporary visual and popular culture today.

I really enjoyed the way the exhibition was designed – allowing people to walk around and to get up close to the artworks, to see how visual language, employing signs, symbols and words to convey strong social and political messages in unconventional ways.

Beginning with examples of both artist’s work from the streets and subway stations of New York City, the exhibition presents early collaborations and works from each artist’s breakthrough exhibitions alongside many of their most acclaimed artworks, including paintings featuring Basquiat’s crown and head motifs and Haring’s iconic ‘radiant baby’ and dancing figures.

Overall, the two exhibitions were FANTASTIC and definitely worth a look!

The black hero is a prominent figure in Jean-Michel Basquiat’s work. Basquiat explained his repeated use of the powerful motif in a 1985 interview for the New York Times: ‘The black person is the protagonist in most of my paintings. I realised that I didn’t see many paintings with black people in them’.

Basquiat loved cartoons comic books, and often incorporated superheroes and other characters into his paintings. Look closely and you might find some familiar references.

The symbol of the crown has many meanings in Basquiat’s work, and was often used to elevate Basquiat’s protagonists to the status of kings and martyrs.

By filling his work with encyclopaedic references, Basquiat encouraged a close reading of his works. Academic, author and activist bell hooks claims that: ‘Like a secret chamber that can only be opened and entered by those who can decipher hidden codes, Basquiat’s painting challenges folks who think that by merely looking they can “see”‘.

Stay tuned for more of our adventures in Melbourne, Australia.


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