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Basquiat’s “Defacement”: The Untold Story
Tuesday, July 9
6:30 reception, 7:00 program
$10 for members, $20 for guests
Before going to see the compelling Guggenheim exhibition (June 21-Nov 6) of work by Jean-Michel Basquiat, join us for an evening of extraordinary insight into the show by its guest curator, Chaédria LaBouvier, Williams ’07. Basquiat is one of the great American artists, a position recognized by the art marketplace, with a Sotheby’s auction yielding a record high for any American artist, with a single paintings selling price of $ 110.5 million in 2017.
This Basquiat exhibition explores a formative chapter in the artist’s career through the lens of his identity & the role of cultural commentary in New York City during the early 1980s. The exhibition takes as its starting point the painting Defacement (The Death of Michael Stewart, 1983), which Basquiat created to commemorate the fate of the young, Black artist Michael Stewart at the hands of New York City’s transit police after allegedly tagging a wall in an East Village subway station. This presentation will examine Basquiat’s exploration of Black identity, his protest against police brutality, and his attempts to craft a singular, aesthetic language of empowerment and grapplement. Paintings and prints made by other artists in response to Stewart’s death include works by Keith Haring, Andy Warhol, George Condo, David Hammons and David Wojnarowicz.
Joining in the presentation will be Lisa Dorin, Williams College Museum of Art’s Curator of Contemporary Art, who will talk about the Museum’s collaboration with Ms. LaBouvier around the painting, Defacement, which played a critical antecedent role in this exhibition’s realization.
The Williams College Museum of Art embodies Williams’s deep and long-standing connection to the art world, and the potential for the liberal arts to catalyze creative and critical thought. It is a vital hub for student learning and participation; for taking risks and testing creative, future forms of scholarship and teaching; and for boldly affirming the relevance of the history of art and the arts broadly.