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What Happened with BSA + FAILE at the Brooklyn Museum?

What Happened with BSA + FAILE at the Brooklyn Museum?

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Steven P. Harrington, Patrick Miller of Faile (top), Sharon Matt Atkins, Patrick McNeil, and Jaime Rojo (image © by and courtesy of The Dusty Rebel) (@DustyRebel on Instagram)

Yes, it was a big deal for us so we want to share it with you. A few years after we introduced Faile to the Brooklyn Museum we have been blown away by the success of their exhibition Savage/Sacred Young Minds all summer long, as well as the long lines of people who have flowed through both of their immersive environments (Temple, and Deluxx Fluxx with Bäst). Under the guidance of curator Sharon Matt Atkins, Vice Director, Exhibitions and Collections, the museum has again produced a relevant, modern and dynamic show that brings in the street and resonates strongly with the local Brooklyn community and academics as well.

You must have seen (or been a part of) the ocean of people here one night in July when Swizz Beatz and Faile celebrated art and art-making with many of the youth who gave birth to this current Street Art movement in New York. A central tenet of this encyclopedic museum for the last decade and a half has been to produce exhibits and events that involve the community, that are relevant and impactful and the audience at our event in the auditorium attests to the success of exhibitions like Faile’s in this respect.

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Patrick McNeil installing Deluxx Fluxx this spring at the Brooklyn Museum (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Following their work on the street since the late 1990s when Faile began making Street Art, we didn’t actually get to meet them in person until many years later, but we’ve always admired their tenacity and risk-taking and experimentation with their work. The crowning event for us was to interview them on the stage of the museum with the show’s curator Sharon Matt Atkins and to introduce some new people to them live and online; along with a bunch of stalwart longtime fans, collectors, gallerists, art students, and journalists.

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The pre-show began with some collaged video of commercials and TV/movie excerpts inspired by Faile’s personal history as youth growing up in the 1980s. Our presentation momentum hit a few speed bumps at the beginning because of microphone outages and we almost lost the rhythm but eventually we got it back and we had a great time with the guests and the audience members, who were so astute and amazing and articulate in their questions and during the conversations we had later with them at the reception.

Our sincere thanks to Ms. Matt Atkins, Patrick McNeil, Patrick Miller, Director Anne Pasternak and The Brooklyn Museum for hosting us, Alicia Boone the Adult Programs Manager for helping put it all together, previous Director Arnold Lehman for his support, as well as Brooke Baldeschwiler, Shelly Bernstein, Emily Annis, Radiah Harper, Patrice Capobianchi, Matthew Branch, Osaro Hemenez, Robert Nardi, Tim, Emily Liebowitz, Paul Bessire, Meryl Cooper, Fatima Kafele, Lauren Zelaya, Margo Cohen Ristorucci, Sally Williams, and all of the staff and folks at the museum with whom we have been working with over these past few years and Chris Jordan, Doc Gregory, and Ray Cross. It is an honor and a privilege to be a Brooklyn neighbor and a part of The Brooklyn Museum family.

 

Faile’s show closes October 4th! Hurry!

Artnet_logo

Review of BSA at Brooklyn Museum with Faile on artnet news
Street Art Duo FAILE Urges Fans to Make a Statement at the Brooklyn Museum – Amanda Thomas

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Also read our review of the BKM exhibit when it opened:
Holy FAILE! ‘Savage/Sacred Young Minds’ at Brooklyn Museum

See Part II of the interview with Faile on Livestream

 

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Basquiat’s Notebooks Open at The Brooklyn Museum

Basquiat’s Notebooks Open at The Brooklyn Museum

As lines continue to blur in fields of art and technology (and everything else) it is easier to see Street Art as an online/on-street diary, a forum for speech making, a laboratory for testing ideas, a publishing platform for the dispersing of truths and lies and theories and maxims and slogans and aphorisms. A timely new exhibition of personal notebooks by the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat further affirms the direct relationship between the personal and the public voice of one New York expressionist, revealing lesser-known aspects of him as artist and individual.

A teenage poet on New York streets, Basquiat used his own brand of graffiti to pursue his own brand of fame. His text was intended in part as a visual element but unlike graffiti writers who produced ever more expressive tags during that heated moment in New York graffiti history, Basquiat also sought an audience who may be hip to his cerebral wordplay of poetry that puzzled and enticed – a foxy style of William Burroughs-inspired automatic writing he adapted for his own uses.

 

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Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks. Brooklyn Museum. April 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

In Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks, now running at The Brooklyn Museum until August 23rd, the genius of his fragmenting logic is revealed as a direct relationship between his private journals and his prolific and personally published aerosol missives on the streets of Manhattan’s Soho and Lower East Side neighborhoods in the late 1970s and 1980s.

These notebooks were for capturing ideas and concepts, preparing them, transmuting them, revising them, pounding them into refrains. In the same way his text (and glyphic) pieces on the street were not necessarily finished products each time; imparted on the run and often in haste, these unpolished missives didn’t require such preciousness.

 

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Untitled. Circa 1987. Basquiat:The Unknown Notebooks. Brooklyn Museum. April 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The art collector Larry Warsh lends these eight notebooks that span 1981-1987, 160 pages in all, for you to scan and contemplate. New to most audiences, they also feel familiar. While they do not provide a play-by-play account of his daily affairs, they do provide insight into his state of mind, interests, and creative process. Knowing his reputation for being very aware of his public perception, you may wonder how private these were in his mind if he was at least partially writing for a greater audience here sometimes as well.

But these are definitely his voice. Even in lengthier poetry pieces, Basquiats’ reductive approach to writing produces the same clipped cadences that appeared on walls and gallery paintings, a process of addition and subtraction that he could eventually pare down to one word that would command a canvas.

“Famous”.

 

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Famous. 1982. Basquiat:The Unknown Notebooks. Brooklyn Museum. April 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

A two sided, free standing piece from 1982 midway through the gallery space gives a bittersweet focus to one of his aspirations, as well as to his application of photocopies of his own work in multiples on the canvas – a replication/repetition technique from commercial wildposting that was popularized on walls and lamp posts by graffiti writer/street artists like Revs and Cost in New York in the 90s.

“I think this show points out that the conceptual and poetic side of JMB’s work is central to and integrated with his more overtly visual and expressionistic paintings,” says Tricia Laughlin Bloom, who worked in collaboration with Dieter Bucchart, Guest Curator in organizing this exhibition. “He enjoyed exploring the play between text as visual sign or symbol and the layers of historical, sociological, personal meaning that words activate.  Some of the very restrained word drawings and notebook entries are intensely expressionistic, for instance, without the use of gesture or color.”

 

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Famous. 1982. Detail. Basquiat:The Unknown Notebooks. Brooklyn Museum. April 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

The notebooks are part of a larger offering of paintings, drawings, and moving image in this well balanced show that keeps the focus on the writer and painter of text while placing it in the greater context of all his work. Included here are drawings of his fictional character Jimmy Best, for example, who appeared in early SAMO© street writings and elsewhere as an ongoing and developing narrative that hinted at his self image.

Most riveting for the new generation of writers may be the film clips shot in 1980-81 during the filming of New York Beat (released in 2000 as Downtown 81). Not true documentary footage, it nevertheless captures the artist outside mark-making in a determined, self-aware, sometimes hesitating manner across walls with letters and lines of simple black aerosol.

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Famous. Verso. 1982. Basquiat:The Unknown Notebooks. Brooklyn Museum. April 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Moving into “the City” from his middle class Brooklyn home as a teenager in the late 70s, you have to wonder how or if his street practice with friend Al Diaz had been influenced by the students and workers who wrote slogans, epigrams, maxims, in black aerosol letters during the Paris uprisings of 1968. Quick passages on the street then like “Sous les paves, la plage” (under the paving stones, the beach) also played with text and sometimes cryptic meaning in ways similar to his on city walls and in these notebooks. Neatly penned, his was a deliberate meditation and experiment with words – a process that allowed you to see the deletions and additions, fully part of the finished product.

“We were presented with the rare opportunity to exhibit Basquiat’s notebooks, which offer fascinating access to his thoughts and process,” says Sharon Matt Atkins, Vice Director for Exhibitions and Collections Management, when talking about the decision to mount Notebooks.

 

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Untitled. 1980. Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks. Brooklyn Museum. April 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Of course its not the first time Street Artists have been featured meaningfully here. Under the guidance of Director Arnold L. Lehman the Brooklyn Museum has shown a serious and committed interest in highlighting the contributions of artists whose practice comes directly from the streets of New York and its graffiti/Street Art traditions; including the huge Basquiat show a decade ago, the Graffiti show in 2006, the more recent Keith Haring show, Swoon’s Submerged Motherlands last year, Olek’s display at the annual Artist’s Ball, and the upcoming Faile exhibit this July, which will also feature their collaboration with Bäst. For Matt Atkins, this show is in perfect alignment.

“The Brooklyn Museum has had a commitment to showing artists whose work embraces contemporary culture. Basquiat seamlessly synthesized the world around him in his art, including elements culled from the streets, music, literature, history, and more,” she says.

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Untitled. 1986. Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks. Brooklyn Museum. April 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

It has been 27 years since Basquiat died at the age of 27. Somehow you can imagine that mathematical equation appearing here on one of the larger canvases; dense with symbols, sentence fragments, lists and formulas. Sifting through the tenuously connected word constellation it occurs to you that people like Basquiat and Burroughs and the Beats were forebears of the post-Gutenberg dislocation of text from its moorings  one that we all swim in  with passages and words and texts floating to us and past us from multiple screens of varying sizes throughout each day.

As this stream of messages blurs from the intensely personal to the public spheres, this show confirms how the art-making process for the street has always been rich with storytelling, even if not evident at first. A show of this moment, seeing these notebooks first hand will complete a cycle for many.

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Untitled. 1986. Detail.. Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks. Brooklyn Museum. April 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

We had an opportunity to speak further with one of the curators, Tricia Laughlin Bloom, about Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks.

Brooklyn Street Art: Often we think of the work we see on the street as part of a continuum, a conversation back and forth between the artist and the passerby. How does this exhibition illustrate the continuum that extends from private neatly penned journals to public aerosol missives?
Tricia Laughlin Bloom: Going through the exhibition you find a lot of similarity between the voice he used in his street writing and in his notebooks, that also extends to his word paintings. Fragments of SAMO text recur in larger scale works that we have included, and many of his notebook passages read like they could have been SAMO texts.

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Untitled. 1986. Detail. Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks. Brooklyn Museum. April 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Brooklyn Street Art: Can you describe the dynamic between yourself and the guest curator Dieter Buchhart and how it informed some of your joint decisions for presenting the work?
Tricia Laughlin Bloom: Dieter brought the initial checklist together as Guest Curator, and we shaped it together from there. We both felt it was important that the show be about the notebooks—that the paintings and drawings should be carefully selected to compliment the notebooks and not overwhelm, and to highlight Basquiat the poet and thinker AND visual artist. Getting the right number of works and the precise balance was a long process, and many conversations.

Brooklyn Street Art: How has preparing this exhibition changed or affected your perception of his work in the intervening ten years since the “Basquiat” exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, if at all?
Tricia Laughlin Bloom: I was always a fan, and I loved the 2005 show, but I feel I understand him better and my admiration has deepened after the opportunity to work with the notebooks. It’s more intimate in scale and the whole experience feels more personal.

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All Beef. 1983. Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks. Brooklyn Museum. April 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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All Beef. 1983. Verso. Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks. Brooklyn Museum. April 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Untitled. 1982-83. Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks. Brooklyn Museum. April 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Untitled. 1982-83. Detail. Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks. Brooklyn Museum. April 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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From left to right: Untitled (Crown) 1982. Tuxedo. 1982. Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks. Brooklyn Museum. April 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Famous Negro Atheletes. 1981. Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks. Brooklyn Museum. April 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Antidote. 1981. Untitled (Ego) 1983. Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks. Brooklyn Museum. April 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Photo taken from the video Downtown 81 Outtakes. 2001. Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks. Brooklyn Museum. April 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

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Photo taken from the video Downtown 81 Outtakes. 2001. Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks. Brooklyn Museum. April 2015. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks is organized by Dieter Buchhart, Guest Curator, with Tricia Laughlin Bloom, former Associate Curator of Exhibitions, Brooklyn Museum and current Curator of American art at the Newark Museum.

With special thanks to Tricia Laughlin Bloom, Sharon Matt Atkins, and Sally Williams.

Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks at the Brooklyn Museum opens on April 3, 2015 to the general public. Click HERE for further details.

 

 

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Please note: All content including images and text are © BrooklynStreetArt.com, unless otherwise noted. We like sharing BSA content for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the photographer(s) and BSA, include a link to the original article URL and do not remove the photographer’s name from the .jpg file. Otherwise, please refrain from re-posting. Thanks!

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This article is also published on The Huffington Post

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Keith Haring 1978-1982 : Early Keith at The Brooklyn Museum

1978 and 2012 seem closer to one another than ever right now when we look at the blossomed Street Art scene in cities around the world. More than 30 years after Keith Haring moved to New York as an art school kid at the School of Visual Arts, a new generation of art school kids consider it almost a birthright to take their work directly to the street. Right now feels like an excellent time for Brooklyn to spotlight this study of his first four years in the city that blew his mind and inspired him to alter the whole system of how an artist reaches the public.

Keith Haring. Untitled, 1982. Courtesy of  and © Keith Haring Foundation. The Brooklyn Museum. (photo © Jaime Rojo

Keith Haring: 1978-1982, a traveling exhibition first shown in Kunsthalle Wien in Vienna and The Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, introduces a period of his work not often examined, taking you up to the edge of the seemingly sudden international fame he experienced as artist, activist and public figure through the rest of the 1980s.

“Raphaela Platow, who was the original curator of this show, went into the archives and pulled out things that had basically just been sitting there, ” explained Tricia Laughlin Bloom, the project curator for the current show as she gave a tour this week before its opening at the Brooklyn Museum Friday.

At a time when the small-town boy was developing his visual vocabulary as an artist, Haring was also discovering himself as a man in the world and in a city that he found endlessly fascinating and worthy of exploration. Capturing his spirit of hands-on experimentation, the show is almost entirely comprised of works on paper with one collaborative piece on plywood with his contemporary Jean Michel Basquiat, paper collage, video, and documentary photos.

Keith Haring. Untitled, 1982. Courtesy of and © Keith Haring Foundation, The Brooklyn Museum. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

In these years Disco was on a full force collision course with Punk, New Wave, and Rap, and Haring was embracing the nightlife of a college student sampling the downtown scene, exploring his sexuality, and commandeering entire rooms at SVA to mount shows on paper. Some of those “body involvement” painting sessions are documented well here in video; a sort of full immersion painting baptism. While jamming out to music he covers every white surface with thick black symbols and gestural marking, sometimes painting with both hands in a rhythmic automatic study of both the physicality of the process and his own interaction with space and materials.

Not to be missed in person is the 30 piece collection in the final room of actual subway black papers that Haring adorned with his white line drawings, energetically created symbols and characters throughout stations in New York’s train system. The frames and glass protect them for us to appreciate them today in their disarming simplicity, their collection ironically alleged by some to be why the artist discontinued the subway practice. Equally compelling is the projected large slide show of Haring in photos by Tseng Kwong Chi, whom the artist called to shoot almost every time he did an illegal piece in the subway.

Keith Haring. Matrix, 1983. Courtesy of and © Keith Haring Foundation, The Brooklyn Museum. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Keith Haring. Manhattan Penis Drawings for Ken Hicks, 1978. Courtesy of and © Keith Haring Foundation, The Brooklyn Museum. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

With almost half of the pieces here never displayed publicly like this before, the show is a welcome revelation for fans hoping to peel back a little of the hype-like gloss that time and opportunism may have shined his legacy with. Whether it’s his hand-collaged flyers for the indie group shows he curated, his home movies of Klaus Nomi and Joey Arias performing in the living room, or the complete re-installation of a wall from his 1980 show at PS 122, you get the idea that this was an audacious observant art student gulping at the faucet of life in a pulsating dirty city that welcomed him.

“He’s such a thoughtful and complicated figure – at the same time with that really pure impulse of not wanting to alienate people but to bring them in,” says Laughlin Bloom as she describes the young artist she discovered en route. “He’s this combination of fun-loving, and life-loving, and intellectual, accessible – a total populist but not in an insincere way.”

Keith Haring. Twenty Polaroid self-portraits with glasses painted by Kenny Scharf and Peter Schuyff, 1979-82. Courtesy of and © Keith Haring Foundation, The Brooklyn Museum. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Keith Haring. Still from Lick Fat Boys. April, 1979. Vide0 3 min. Courtesy of and © Keith Haring Foundation, The Brooklyn Museum. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Keith Haring. Still from Lick Fat Boys. April, 1979. Vide0 3 min. Courtesy of and © Keith Haring Foundation, The Brooklyn Museum. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Keith Haring. Still from Lick Fat Boys. April, 1979. Vide0 3 min. Courtesy of and © Keith Haring Foundation, The Brooklyn Museum. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Keith Haring. Still from Lick Fat Boys. April, 1979. Vide0 3 min. Courtesy of and © Keith Haring Foundation, The Brooklyn Museum. (photo © Jaime Rojo

After 1982, Haring’s entire visual language of characters and symbols would become iconic, international; his work in dialogue with modern art history and everyday people eventually outlasted him to inspire a diverse generation of artists working on the street from Shepard Fairey and Swoon to Stikman and Specter, among many others.

“Haring saw the subway as the ideal platform for showing work – one of the few places to catch New Yorkers off-guard,” says Poster Boy, a Street Artist/collective who is credited/blamed for re-engineering and culture jamming subway posters with a razor in very recent years. Speaking of Haring’s chiding of corporate commercialism in the culture, Poster Boy observes, “For advertisers it’s the perfect opportunity for a commercial break. Haring saw it as a break from commercials.”

Respected for his early interest in busting down barriers in social activism, street art, and illegal art, it’s likely that many on the Street Art scene today will be checking out the pre-buzz Haring on display at this show. At the moment, it feels like one of New York’s adopted hometown heroes is back in Brooklyn.

Keith Haring. Untitled, 1982. Courtesy of and © Keith Haring Foundation, The Brooklyn Museum. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“Art is for everybody. To think that they-the public- do not appreciate art because they don’t understand it, and to continue to make art that they don’t understand and therefore become alienated from, may mean that the artist is the one who doesn’t understand or appreciate art and is thriving in this “self-proclaimed knowledge of art” that is actually bullshit.”  1978

 – Keith Haring Journals

Keith Haring. Cipher chart, 1971-73. Courtesy of and © Keith Haring Foundation, The Brooklyn Museum. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Keith Haring. Wall papered with reproductions of hand collaged flyers to advertise shows that Keith Haring curated, 1981. Courtesy of and © Keith Haring Foundation, The Brooklyn Museum. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Keith Haring. Detail. Courtesy of and © Keith Haring Foundation, The Brooklyn Museum. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

“These are flyers from 1981 – an aspect of his production that maybe people aren’t aware of. He did a lot of organizing shows in alternative spaces and curating 24 hour exhibitions, xerox exhibitions, neon exhibitions, open-calls for artists where they show your work for 24 hours and then it’s taken away. He designed these – the framed works are the originals of the collages and posters that he did for these shows,” Tricia Laughlin Bloom, the project curator for the show.  Keith Haring. Detail. Courtesy of and © Keith Haring Foundation, The Brooklyn Museum. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Keith Haring. Thirty untitled subway drawings, 1980-85. Private Collection. The Brooklyn Museum. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Keith Haring. Thirty untitled subway drawings, 1980-85. Private Collection. The Brooklyn Museum. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Keith Haring. Thirty untitled subway drawings, 1980-85. Private Collection. The Brooklyn Museum. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

With special thanks to Tricia Laughlin Bloom, Sharon Matt Atkins, Sally Williams, Marcus Romero, Matthew Branch, The Brooklyn Museum, and the Keith Haring Foundation.

 

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