A sweeping new exhibition in NYC titled “Jean-Michel Basquiat: King Pleasure” serves as an immersive portal into the world of one of America’s most revolutionary contemporary artists, Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Opened in April 2022, Jean-Michel Basquiat: King Pleasure is an unprecedented showcase dedicated to the late artist that spans 15,000 square feet of the landmark Starrett-Lehigh Building in West Chelsea. Installed throughout the meandering space are over 200 rare and never-before-seen paintings, drawings, videos, and artifacts—directly from his family’s collection.
Collectively, the pieces form a multidimensional portrait of the personal and professional universe of one of the most coveted artistic talents in history, whose highest-valued painting fetched a record-setting price of $110.5 million at a 2017 auction.
At Basquiat: King Pleasure, the thematic journey unfolds as you float through dim-lit corridors and illuminated galleries, each created by the Basquiat family in collaboration with famed architect Adjaye Associates and design firm Pentagram Design. Each section is curated as a reflection of pivotal periods in Basquiat’s life, from his adolescent years to his meteoric rise to fame. (Don’t pass up scanning the pasted Spotify QR codes to listen to a playlist of tunes loved by Basquiat himself as you walk around.)
These categories include “1960” (an overview of Basquiat’s heritage), “Kings County” (scenes from his childhood in Brooklyn and Puerto Rico recreated with ephemera and home videos), “Ideal” (vignettes from his 57 Great Jones Street studio in Noho), and “Palladium” (the iconic NYC club that commissioned two paintings for its Michael Todd VIP Room).
In the “Art Gallery,” around 100 paintings and drawings—most of them on public display for the first time—are thematically arranged. And at “Place Jean-Michel Basquiat,” interviews of his family and friends are projected alongside posthumous awards and exhibitions. It’s a fascination and at times an emotional shrine to a talent lost far too soon.