ART: #TBT Warhol- Basquiat 1986

by Aaron Shapiro

Warhol and Basquiat, Photo by Ricky Powell

Its 2013, and countless significant moments have been jotted down into the American art history books, but sometimes certain moments float to the surface and are worth a second look. In 1986 two artists were brought together to make a historic collaboration. Famed commercial pop artist Andy Warhol and New York based neo-expressionist Jean-Michel Basquiat created a unique relationship, one that lead to the birth and rebirth of both artists’ careers.

Warhol had been criticized for becoming solely a commercial artist. His work was revitalized by the young and passionate Basquiat – a young and opinionated street artist— who gained fame with his unique and free style. After several attempts at getting the pop art icon’s attention, Basquiat was brought to Warhol by Bruno Bischofberger.  Both artists benefited from their relationship, both gaining fame and new perspectives from the collaboration.


Arm and Hammer II, Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat

It made sense for the two to collaborate on many levels.  The two artists were pioneers in the art world for breaking boundaries in the American social structure. Andy Warhol was one of the first openly gay men in America, exposing himself to the public during the adolescence of the Gay Liberation movement. Basquiat was known for expressing his views on racism, attacking the American social and financial powers in a poetic manner. Both Warhol and Basquiat represented a rebellious attitude toward the conformity that grasped hold of a large percentage of Americans, preaching equality. We can all appreciate their message and approach to art and expression. Their bravery defied the conventions of art, and bigotry, and hate that surrounded the Reagan era as they looked past their differences, and worked together in order to create iconic masterpieces for connoisseurs and the public.


Zenith, Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat

With all of the terrible tragedies constantly being replayed the media, it is imperative now more than ever to work together as a society, and revitalize a positive message. That we can work together to create our own masterpieces despite the challenges we face. It seems at times that we forget that art is the mirror of our society, but when times get tough, we seem to throw art out the window. We cut grants to artists, cut resources to art educators, and simply push it to the back. This ideology is flawed because in moments of despair it is crucial to be able to express our emotions through creative outlets, as our idols Warhol and Basquiat did. This is why we should remember to look back at, and honor the innovators who have shaped and molded the culture that we live in, because artists constantly remind us who we are whether we support them or not. Art is life. #TBT


Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Bruno Bischofberger, and Francesco Clemente


Interview with Andy Warhol and Jean Michel Basquiat 1986 from Qefcho on Vimeo.