The Albertina art museum treads new ground for Austria with its Basquiat retrospective, which launches the traditional year-end bundle of art joy in Vienna.
- Rare opportunity to see such a collection
- Features numerous major works across Basquiat’s oeuvre
- Full of raging creativity
- Runs Sept 9, 2022 – Jan 8, 2023
- See also:
(Jean-Michel Basquiat; Untitled (Infantry), 1983; acrylic on canvas; Nicola Erni Collection, Reto Pedrini Photography © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York)
Back in the early 1980s, you could plausibly get a painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988) for a couple of hundred US dollars. In 2017, Sotheby’s sold his Untitled from 1982 for over US$110 million.
That change speaks to Basquiat’s status in the art world, where he’s achieved the ultimate acclaim of one-name recognition alongside the likes of Warhol (his friend and collaborator).
Basquiat. The Retrospective is Austria’s first major museal look at Basquiat’s range of material and adds the Albertina’s name to the growing list of prestigious institutions highlighting the US artist’s work.
In the last couple of years alone, the likes of The Guggenheim and the MFA Boston have held significant exhibitions.
As I write, for example, the immersive and biographical King Pleasure exhibition continues in New York (curated by Basquiat’s family).
The Albertina’s show covers some 50 major works, drawn from a range of international sources that include private collections.
Even without an in-depth understanding of Basquiat’s position in art and society (I’m just a writer), the exhibition seems acutely relevant to the times.
(Jean-Michel Basquiat; Untitled, 1983; screen print on canvas; Nicola Erni Collection, Reto Pedrini Photography © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York)
The mix of inspirational sources (physical and cultural), diversity of output, and use of written and visual language find a mirror in today’s connected world with its myriad of easily-accessed multimedia impressions.
The vibrant complexity of the works on display at the Albertina certainly seem to reflect the seething mix that is New York. The whirl of cultural, musical, urban, and sociopolitical imagery is such that relatively “quiet” works like 1987’s Item come as quite a shock.
Equally, recent events in the US and elsewhere have added new urgency to themes addressed by Basquiat, such as racism and consumer culture.
Basquiat’s 1981 La Hara, for example, features a skeletal (white) police officer carrying an almost Terminator-like menace. The exhibition certainly focuses on the strong sense of injustice that permeates such works and also delivers a clear sense of raging creativity.
As noted in one of the display texts, Basquiat’s artistic legacy still remains unrelentingly radical and topical today.
Dates, tickets & tips
Enjoy Basquiat’s works from September 9th, 2022 to January 8th, 2023 with any entrance ticket for the Albertina.
The NYC connection continues over at the Albertina Modern, which has an autumn & winter exhibition covering the abstract expressionism of the New York School. Enjoy works by the likes of Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, etc..
Aside from other contemporary art exhibitions, you might want to complete the triumvirate of top year-end art events in Vienna.
How to get to the exhibition
The Albertina once overlooked the walls of the old town in its former guise as an aristocratic palais. See the main Albertina article for travel tips, but you likely wander past as you walk around Vienna’s centre.
Once inside, you want Level -1 (access on your immediate left once you pass the ticket control).
Address: Albertinaplatz 1, 1010 Vienna