“Basquiat x Warhol. Painting Four Hands” exhibition at the Fondation Louis Vuitton
In a new exhibition from April 5 to August 28, 2023, the Fondation Louis Vuitton presents a captivating collaboration between Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol. Five years after the resounding success of the “Jean-Michel Basquiat” exhibition, which drew 700,000 visitors, the Foundation continues to explore the artist’s work through this creative tandem with Warhol.
These two giants of contemporary art created around 160 “four-hand” paintings together between 1984 and 1985. The exhibition, curated by Dieter Buchhart and Anna Karina Hofbauer in collaboration with Fondation Louis Vuitton curator Olivier Michelon, brings together over eighty canvases signed by both artists, along with individual works by each of them. The exhibition – the largest ever dedicated to this remarkable collaboration – opens with a series of portraits of Basquiat by Warhol and Warhol by Basquiat. It continues with the first collaborations in which Italian artist Francesco Clemente took part, initiated by Bruno Bischofberger, gallerist to both Basquiat and Warhol. After completing these fifteen paintings with Clemente, Basquiat and Warhol pursued their collaboration on an almost daily basis with tremendous enthusiasm and palpable affinity. Visitors are drawn through all the galleries of the Foundation by their energy and uninterrupted exchanges.
“Andy would start one (painting) and put something very recognizable on it, or a product logo, and I would sort of deface it. Then I would try to get him to work some more on it, I would try to get him to do at least two things,” Basquiat explained.
“I drew it first and then I painted it like Jean-Michel. I think those paintings we’re doing together are better when you can’t tell who did which parts,” Warhol said.
Keith Haring, who witnessed their friendship and “four-hand” creative output, spoke of “a conversation occurring through painting, not words”, and of two minds merging to create “a third distinctive and unique mind.”
The exhibition curators evoke the energy of the New York downtown art scene of the 1980s by including works by other key artists of the period, notably Keith Haring, as well as Jenny Holzer and Kenny Scharf. Also featured are photographs, especially the famous boxing gloves photos of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol shot in 1985 by Michael Halsband and reproduced for the exhibition poster.
“Some forty years later, this exhibition is an invitation to live in the present and experience, in the Foundation’s galleries, one of the most intense artistic episodes of the second half of the twentieth century. Because by creating ‘with four hands’, the two artists not only expressed generosity and reciprocal confidence, they also invite us into their conversation,” states Bernard Arnault, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of LVMH.
The exhibition shows the back-and-forth interaction between the two artists in a dialogue of styles and forms that also takes on fundamental issues such as the integration of the African-American community in the narrative of North America, a continent in which Warhol was a leading manufacturer of icons.