Basquiat’s Image and influence, past, present and near future.
Born in New York in 1960, Jean-Michel Basquiat shot to fame in the art world during the 1980s. Basquiat’s energetic art drew inspiration from his mixed Haitian and Puerto Rican heritage and black cultural heroes, creating in his paintings a distinctive and subversive visual language. An artist of stirring emotional depth, Basquiat once said that his main themes were “kings, heroes, and the street.” He is recognized for the unique iconography he developed from urban culture, sports heroes, and jazz legends, as well as his ability to break down the boundaries between painting, text, and drawing.
Basquiat’s footprint in contemporary art is undeniable, as he has become a referent for black artists and for all those intrigued by the 1980’s New York Art Scene. Given his deep influence and connection with New York City, his time in Los Angeles isn’t as frequently discussed, but does not fail to be an important pinpoint in his trajectory as the infamous artist we recognize today.
At 21-years-old, Jean Michel-Basquiat arrived in Los Angeles under the guidance of art gallery owner Larry Gagosian, beginning to work in a small studio in Venice, where he could escape the pressures of New York. There, he executed the series of sixteen paintings that would eventually be exhibited in 1983 at the former Larry Gagosian Gallery in West Hollywood. During his time in LA, Basquiat developed a close working relationship and friendship with print publisher, gallery owner and art historian Fred Hoffman. Together, Hoffman and Basquiat produced six, now highly recognized, silk screen prints, two of which were included in the 1983 exhibition in West Hollywood.
Having some of his most recognized works produced while living in L.A., it is important to reflect upon the impact that the artist had, and the footprint he left on the city’s contemporary art history. Was Basquiat’s passing through L.A. an event that significantly influenced the city’s art scene? How has it affected other artists, curators and art enthusiasts in their own artistic trajectory?
Dot Red is a curator of Visual Art conversations and exhibitions, pioneering fresh relationships between artists, galleries, and diverse collectors while revolutionizing the business of art through virtual and live conversations and storytelling. For our first event of 2023, we bring an intersectional conversation surrounding the topic of Basquiat’s time in Los Angeles and his influence on the past, present and future of contemporary art in the city, during this year’s LA Art Week and Black History Month.
We’re excited to have Fred Hoffman as part of our panel, providing us with a historical perspective of Basquiat’s time in Los Angeles and the artist’s major accomplishments in the city. Alongside him, two well-recognized artists, Autumn Breon and Knowledge Bennet sharing their unique experiences of Basquiat’s ground-breaking career and work, that influenced decisions that they’ve made in their own careers with L.A. ‘s changing art climate.
Fred Hoffman is an Art Dealer, publisher, curator and art historian who worked closely with Basquiat between 1982 and 1984. Hoffman facilitated the production of the artist’s 1984 silk screen paintings, arranged for Basquiat’s first European museum exhibition at the Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh, Scotland (1984); and placed the first work by Basquiat into a major museum collection (The Museum of Modern Art, 1984). For several years Fred Hoffman served on the Authentication Committee for the Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Autumn Breon is a Los Angeles based artist and curator who explores and investigates the visual vocabulary of liberation through a queer Black feminist lens. After living in South Africa, Autumn began the examination of contemporary art throughout the African Diaspora. Using a variety of media, she invites audiences to participate in the examination of freedom, intersectional identities, and Diasporic memory, and to reimagine and create systems that make current oppressive systems obsolete.
Knowledge Bennet is a self-taught multi-disciplinary artist based in Los Angeles, known for his pursuit of autonomy and effort to amplify the voice of visual narrative through his works. Bennett’s creative journey started with photography and large- format silk screen painting, which addressed the present-day issues faced by Black Americans. In his latest ongoing series, Bennett departs from representation and explores timeless subject matter, inviting the viewers and himself into a new discourse. His “Black Paintings” illustrate identity beyond the limitations of one’s body, depicting humanity rooted in cosmological divinities.
Jeremy Quant is a third-generation Angeleno-based Business owner who ran a successful Art Tourism Business, where he and his experts guided over 1,000 guests on art tours to museums, art galleries, artist studios around Los Angeles. From Collectors tours to Arts education and tourism for the last five years before his company pivoted on online and hybrid art experiences. He also organized the first Los Angeles Worldwide Inaugural Art Day Festival with the International Art Association and UNESCO.