The Village Voice discovered Jean-Michel Basquiat when he was 17, spraying epigrammatic graffiti on Soho buildings under the tag of SAMO. When he was 20-and already hot, hot, hot-the art dealer Annina Nosei let this self-taught painter and club-crawler use her gallery basement as his studio. ("I'd have to make eight paintings in a week, for the show the next week," Basquiat later complained.) In three years he went from sleeping on friends' couches to staying at L'Ermitage and dining at Mr.
This fall in New York has been touted as the season, and the raft of museum exhibitions is spectacular indeed. "The most beautiful show in the world" (as we called it) of Matisse continues to beflower the Modern, and Magritte is still playing three-card monte with viewers at the Met.
To most people, surrealism--the style that splashed the contents of the subconscious on the canvas--is inherently exotic and complicated. They think of Salvador Dali's rubbery, distorted dream pictures, in which tigers leap from the mouths of fish and pocket watches melt on tree branches.
Francis Bacon, who died in Spain of a heart attack at 82 last week, made ugliness beautiful. And vice versa. Bacon, who almost singlehandedly kept figure painting alive as an important expressive vehicle during the Pollock-to-pop 1950s and '60s, specialized in twisted, translucent human bodies that nevertheless seem eerily realistic.
With a record sale at Christie's and a biography that keeps selling, the late Mexican painter ranks with the greats. Do we need a movie with Madonna? In the fevered '80s, Frida Kahlo's posthumous performance in the auction pit last week would have met with a resounding "Eh?" But this is the New Art World Order: recession.
The Studio Museum in Harlem kicks off a retrospective of the collagist Romare Bearden When Romare Bearden (191288) abruptly abandoned abstract painting in the early 1960s, he found not only a perfect match of subject (urban life in Harlem and memories of its rural Southern roots) and medium (collage).
If artists, as Ezra Pound said, are "the antennae of the race," they're picking up some plenty bad vibes these days. A few years ago, who would have imagined that one of this season's top-grossing films (no pun intended) would be about a psychopath who not only murders women but also skins them?