April 2nd, 2015

Language was Jean-Michel Basquiat’s first artistic language. The words he deftly spray-painted on the walls and buildings of downtown New York in the late 1970s and early ’80s — signing them “SAMO©” — were unlike any other graffiti of the time. They had an arresting presence, a combination of graphic refinement, aural strangeness and compressed meaning that made you stop and ponder. Their themes, rhythms and even their letters also formed the foundation for the paintings that would soon fix Basquiat prominently in the still understudied history of the medium in 1980s New York.

This point is driven home by “Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks,” an engaging if slightly esoteric exhibition opening on Friday at the Brooklyn Museum that is built around 160 pages from eight notebooks in the collection of Larry Warsh of New York. The show holds no startling revelations — the notebooks are “unknown” only in the most literal sense that they have never been exhibited before. But they confirm the centrality of language and hand lettering to Basquiat’s art in new detail, furthering the understanding of his phenomenal achievement…

Roberta Smith in NYT Arts Beat

Link to the full article here / Link to NYT Art & Design here

© 2010 Artcaste