JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT | WORDS ARE ALL WE HAVE

SORN is proud to acknowledge its collaboration with Berlin-based publishing house Hatje Cantz. As part of an ongoing series, we will be selecting publications from this premium publisher, which hosts a wide variety of art & cultural subjects in an accessible and visually provoking manner.

The work of Neo-Expressionist painter Jean-Michel Basquiat has within its reception in the art world been conducive to its arresting visual power. A new exhibition curated by Dieter Bucchart has focused much needed attention to the inherent mimetic role that words have afforded within Basquiat’s entire oeuvre. The catalogue for this pioneering solo exhibiton as published by Hatje Cantz explores the ideas, thought process and overall narrative structure of the exhibition without losing its focus.

In conjunction with Nahmed Contemporary Gallery New York, Hatje Cantz presents a polemical art catlogue, chronicling Jean-Michel Basquiat’s relationship with words within his entire oeuvre. The inclusion and superimposition of literary, musical and poetic phraseology is fundamental in understanding the relevance of Basquiat’s relationship to the Beat Generation writers and the artistic development of Jazz and Hip-Hop. His influence extends beyond the visual realm as outlined within this art catalogue, and sees it transfer culturally. Basquiat was always versed in the power of pictograms, words and music, as all elements conveyed a synthesis to the universality of connection. Under this representation, both the art catalogue and exhibition explore the important polarity between visual and verbal arts.

The catalogue features examples of Basquiat’s notes and ideas, as two hemispheres of the same systematic whole. Their co-existence within the catalogue is executed in two sections – “words” and “paintings,” whereby one could not exist without the other. It is chronicled seamlessly and in such a way as to inform the reader that the relationship between the two were in fact strongly unified.

© All Images and Text by Adwena Shemon courtesy of Hatje Cantz