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An Artist and a Poet: The Unknown Notebooks of Jean-Michel Basquiat

In 2015 the Brooklyn Museum opened the exhibition, ‘Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks,” featuring previously unseen pages from eight of Jean-Michel’s private notebooks spanning the years 1980-1987 from the collection of Larry Warsh. In an article for The New York Times Style Magazine, Lucy Sante writes:

“The notebooks’ jumble of entries variously sound like song lyrics, slogans, mantras, fragments of scenarios, of routines like those of William Burroughs.

He [Jean-Michel] kept his notebooks like a poet would, rather than like his tagging peers, whose notebooks often consisted of endless elaborations on a single tag. Even so, the words aren’t just written; they are sketched. The letters are shapely; their placement on the page matters… Basquiat was always a poet and a painter simultaneously, by instinct.”

Learn more about Jean-Michel's poetry, artwork and worldview from the people who knew him best in the Jean-Michel Basquiat: King Pleasure© Exhibition catalog.

Source: Lucy Sante, “The Unknown Notebooks of Jean-Michel Basquiat” (New York Times Style Magazine)

Photos: Brooklyn Museum (individual pages); Cover, “Jean-Michel Basquiat The Notebooks” (Edited by Larry Warsh).

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