Basquiat’s ex-girlfriend has released never before seen images of the artist during his younger years.
Artists don’t settle on their signature style straight away, it takes years of experimenting and creating to figure both themselves and their art out. Even a great like Basquiat. Basquiat Before Basquiat: East 12th Street, 1979-1980, is currently showing at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver, and it’s a rare/never before seen look at the artist and his experimentations before he became a renowned figure in the art scene. The collection has been entirely provided by Basquiat’s former girlfriend, Alexis Adler, who lived with him in three different apartments across the city, capturing his creative processes on camera during the years before he’d begun his iconic paintings.
Alexis Adler wrote about their relationship, “We were punk pioneers homesteading in this ever-evolving remnant of the neighbourhood,” a sentiment affirmed when viewing this insight into their lives at their sixth floor, four room apartment in Manhattan’s East Village. The walls, floors and entire living space were transformed into a canvas for Basquiat’s explorations, painting and creating with pieces of random objects he’d found on the street.
The significance of the photographs finally being released to the public is pretty significant for the art world, as it fills in a blank space of a few relatively unaccounted for years of art making in Basquiat’s life. And as his life was tragically cut short from a heroin overdose at 27, every year counts in the eyes of Basquiat fans. But why now? Adler said after attending a discussion about the artist a few years back, she realised she was in possession of artworks and photographs that the world needed to see.