An exhibition featuring over 200 never-before-seen and rarely seen works by Jean-Michel Basquiat is being exhibited by the family with a mission to make public his young life. Basquiat, who died in 1988 at the age of 27, left works representing paintings, drawings, ephemera, and artifacts that have ended up in the private art collections of celebrities like Yoko Ono and David Bowie.
This exhibition at the Starrett-Lehigh building in Chelsea, Manhattan throws light on the ordinary life that Basquiat shared with his family including the things he enjoyed doing at home. Jeanine Heriveaux and her sister put the exhibition together. "We curated to every little detail. And these are all things that were an inspiration for Jean-Michel, the music that we heard when we were children. The songs that we listened to. The movies that we watched. The TV shows that we watched on Saturday mornings—all of that is incorporated into this exhibition, and a lot of the items that are in the show are original pieces," she said.
Basquiat's life did not just revolve around the family, he had friends in the neighborhood. "Jean-Michel was a very social being also. So he knew a lot of people. And one of the things that's different about this exhibition is that there are people who may have spent some time with him, known him for a few weeks or a few months or a few years, and known him at a very specific point in time. And so, we are really the only people that can really put some context around that and give the perspective of our family," said Lisane Basquiat.
The sisters have never taken on a project of this scale. They started organizing pieces in 2017 but felt that they still needed time. But the murder of George Floyd in 2020 motivated them to get it off the ground.
" I think now is just the right time in order to show a parallel between the voices and the narrative of what's being discussed today and parallel back to what he is saying in his paintings. It is unfortunate that we are still having this conversation, but hopefully, people will understand and get an understanding of what Black people experience on a daily basis," said Jeanine Heriveaux.
Tickets for the exhibition are available through Labor Day as of now, and the end date will be determined by public interest.