Writing the Future: Basquiat and the Hip-Hop Generation

by Liz Munsell (Editor), Greg Tate (Editor), J. Faith Almiron (Contributor), Dakota DeVos (Contributor), Hua Hsu (Contributor), Carlo McCormick (Contributor)

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In the early 1980s, art and writing labeled as graffiti transitioned from New York City walls and subway trains onto canvas and into art galleries. Young artists who freely sampled from their urban experiences and their largely black, Latino and immigrant histories infused the downtown art scene with expressionist, pop and graffiti-inspired compositions.

Jean-Michel Basquiat was among the best known of these emerging artists. He and his fellow creators – including A-One, Fab Five Freddy, Futura, Keith Haring, Kool Koor, LA2, Lady Pink, Lee Quiñones, Rammellzee and Toxic – became avant-garde leaders infiltrating and reshaping the predominantly white art world. This book captures the energy, inventiveness, and resistance unleashed when hip-hop went ‘all city’.

Jean-Michel Basquiat

A poet, musician, and graffiti prodigy in late-1970s New York, Jean-Michel Basquiat had honed his signature painting style of obsessive scribbling, elusive symbols and diagrams, and mask-and-skull imagery by the time he was 20. “I don’t think about art while I work,” he once said. “I think about life.” Basquiat drew his subjects from his own Caribbean heritage—his father was Haitian and his mother of Puerto Rican descent—and a convergence of African-American, African, and Aztec cultural histories with Classical themes and contemporary heroes like athletes and musicians. Often associated with Neo-expressionism, Basquiat received massive acclaim in only a few short years, showing alongside artists like Julian Schnabel, David Salle, and Francesco Clemente. In 1983, he met Andy Warhol, who would come to be a mentor and idol. The two collaborated on a series of paintings before Warhol’s death in 1987, followed by Basquiat’s own untimely passing a year later.

Product Details

Hardcover: 240 pages
ISBN-10: 0878468714
Dimensions: 23.88 x 2.54 x 27.18 cm
Publisher: MFA Publications – The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; 1st edition (23 April 2020)
Language: English

Editorial Reviews

This American artist powerfully captured the refracted, outsider energy of rap, punk, graffiti, and hip-hop, expressive forms moving in from the fringes. "Writing the Future" places Basquiat at the center of these movements, and is the first exhibition to look at his work in the context of hip-hop culture.
Joel Lobenthal
Airmail
Writing the Future: Basquiat and the Hip-Hop Generation?, sought to contextualize Basquiat's work in an art and culture scene of his co-conspirators who really meant to remake the world they had inherited.
Hrag Vartanian
Hyperallergic
In these flattened times, Writing the Future conveys motion. The book, a companion to a suspended exhibition at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, is about Basquiat, his contemporaries, and early hip-hop culture, but it's also about the movements and rhythms of New York City--'the work of the subway writers became as optically and optimally omnipresent as the Manhattan skyline, ' Greg Tate writes. And in its dynamic blend of art, history, and analysis, it has a movement of its own.
Dan Adler
Vanity Fair

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