Tag Archives: urban

Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks

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Late in the 1980s, burgeoning New York art collector Larry Warsh acquired a series of eight, common composition notebooks from members of a seemingly-defunct and little-known band called “Gray.” Those notebooks sat boxed in a closet of Warsh’s Manhattan apartment for more than 25 years. Now they are on a touring exhibition from the Brooklyn Museum, with stops at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, and the Pérez Art Museum in Miami, and the books are likely reaching a much bigger audience than the band ever attracted back at C.B.G.B.’s in 1980.

Of course, these aren’t just any notebooks. “Gray” isn’t just any band born in the Bowery. And it turns out that Larry Warsh is a damn good judge of groundbreaking art.

The sparsely-filled books contain years of hand-written notes by revolutionary artist Jean-Michel Basquiat and they seem to offer a peep-hole in to the mind of that unconventional genius. This exhibit presents pages from the notebooks alongside a selection of his larger compositions, providing the visitor an in-depth exploration of the Basquiat lexicon that is both verbal and visual.

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View from the Basquiat exhibition at the High Museum of Art.

Basquiat started the band, eventually called “Gray” with performance artist Michael Holman in 1979. They, with various other bandmates, played their ambient/industrial music at the usual downtown haunts, but with growing recognition of his visual artistic talent, Basquiat left the band in mid 1980. It was right about then his career seemed to lasso a shooting star and the artist struggled to hold on tight for as long as he could.

Surviving band members reunited to play at Basquiat’s memorial service in 1988 and again more recently for art happenings and music festivals. In 2011 they even released a “new” album “Shades of…” which includes cuts of  the late Basquiat’s voice and music.

GRAY – SHADES OF… from Plushsafe Records.

 

But this is about the notebooks…

View from the Basquiat exhibition at the High Museum of Art.

Since the beginning, Basquiat’s artistic efforts have focused on words and short phrases. The SAMO@ graffiti he perpetrated with school friend Al Diaz in the late seventies often seemed like excerpts of Beat poetry.

MICROWAVE & VIDEO X-SISTANCE
“BIG MAC” CERTIFICATE
FOR X-MAS
-SAMO©

Even after his painting evolved from street walls, to paper and fabric, to canvas and wood installations, these words and phrases infiltrated every aspect of Basquiat’s artwork. In fact they seem to be the actual essence of it, merely enhanced by the more visually dominant graphic elements.

Basquiat – Untitled, 1982–83. Oilstick, colored pencil, crayon, and gouache on paper mounted on canvas. Collection of Fred Hoffman.  Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat.

This first major exhibition of the books displays 160 pages of the artist’s personal writings, sketches and notes, accompanied by other drawings, paintings and historical Basquiat ephemera. The pages on display often reveal a kind of evolution on many of the subjects he used in his more extensive paintings, along with those iconic motifs like figures, faces and crowns.

Page from Basquiat notebooks – Famous Negro Athletes.

Basquiat drawing – Famous Negro Athletes, 1981, oil stick on paper. Collection of Glenn O’Brien.

 

Basquiat developed a unique way of using language the way other artists used paint, or filmmakers use footage. The notebooks seem to be like mental scrapbooks for the artist to collect and manipulate phrases and ideas.

The exhibit presents them as “autonomous works” and not the “preparatory studies” of a sketchbook. But they do have a sketchbook feel to them, only these sketches are made with words instead of line and shadow.

This brings me back to the Beat Poets, and Kerouac in particular. On the back cover of my copy of the book: “Jack Kerouac Book of Sketches“, (Pengiun 2006), it says:

“…Ed White mentioned to Jack Kerouac ‘Why don’t you just sketch in the streets like a painter but with words.’ White’s suggestion is credited with helping to inspire Kerouac’s move to spontaneous prose.”

Here’s an excerpt from a Kerouac “sketch” in Massachusetts.

———————–

Concord River RR
Bridge
Sunday Oct 24 ’54
Lowel
5 PM
     A ridiculous NE
tumbleweed danced
across the RR bridge
     Thoreau’s Concord
is blue aquamarine
in October red
sereness — little
Indian hill towards
Walden, is orange
brown with Autumn
The faultless sky
attests to T’s solemn
wisdom being correct
— but perfect wisdom is Buddha’s

—————-

Many of these Basquiat notebook pages have a very similar feel…

Basquiat Page2

Basquiat – from Untitled Notebook #2, 1980–1981 – Collection of Larry Warsh, Copyright © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Photo: Sarah DeSantis, Brooklyn Museum.

 

Just as other collage artists like Ray Johnson and Robert Rauschenberg collected little snippets physically from newspapers, letters and trash piles, to later assemble and re-arrange in their artworks, – Basquiat seems to have been collecting these snippets verbally instead. He collected them in the notebooks by writing them down when he read them, heard them, witnessed them, or just thought them up.

While many lines are filled with these intriguing collections of phrases, and developing ideas, other pages do indeed feel more like finished works of art on their own.

basquiat_untitled_notebook_page_1987_2

Basquiat –  Untitled Notebook Page, circa 1987 – 

Collection of Larry Warsh. Copyright © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Photo: Sarah DeSantis, Brooklyn Museum.

Looking closely at the intricate structures of words and lines on the pages, one can hardly resist recalling the obvious influences of seasoned contemporaries like Rauschenberg and Cy Twombly.

Basquiat – detail from page of Notebook #4 – Collection of Larry Warsh.

In addition to these rarely seen notebook pages, some of the more emblematic Basquiat works are traveling with the show. These larger compositions, canvasses and collages add a pleasing compliment to the exhibition.

Views from the show at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta.

Some of the most precious little items in the show are the rare mementos of the artist’s life, such as the Brooklyn Museum Junior Membership Card signed by a young Jean-Michel Basquiat.

And the unforgettable Polaroid photograph by cohort Andy Warhol.

Jean Michel – Basquiat Polaroid 1982 – by Andy Warhol on loan from private collection, seen at The High Museum of Art.

These additions provide a much wider scope for viewing the artist’s work, making this a unique opportunity for both longtime aficionados, and Basquiat newbies alike.

As notebook owner Larry Warsh expressed so perfectly in an April, 2015 Q&A article for Departures by Laura van Straaten:

“No one can have a complete picture of the inner workings of any artist, but the words on these pages give us a glimpse of the soul behind this complex, creative persona.”

While I highly recommend attending this exhibition if you can, I can’t help myself from wondering what else Warsh might have stashed in that closet of his…

Tour Schedule :

Brooklyn Museum, New York

April 3–August 23, 2015

High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia

February 28–May 29, 2016

Pérez Art Museum Miami, Florida

August 8–October 23, 2016

 

Links, Sources & Recommended reading:

 

Departures: “Q&A: Larry Warsh On Basquiat’s Notebooks” by Laura van Straaten

Financial Times: “Larry Warsh on his approach to collecting” by Peter Aspden

Gray History from the website of Michael Holman

http://plushsaferecords.com/

http://www.basquiat.com/artist-timeline.htm

The SAMO© Graffiti photographed by Henry Flynt

https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/exhibitions/touring/basquiat_notebooks http://www.high.org/Art/Exhibitions/Basquiat-Notebooks http://pamm.org/exhibitions/basquiat-unknown-notebooks

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TEXT AND PHOTOS BY LANCE ARAM ROTHSTEIN (except where noted.)

 

 


On the street in: Key West

On a recent trip to Key West, Florida, (in November 2015) I documented what I came across during my touristic wanderings. Plenty of stickers and little tags, but not many large pieces or murals. Here’s what I found…

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Here’s a decent sticker bomb site including The London Police, buenowun, INFOE, YU 246, CYNE and more.

CYNE was up absolutely EVERYWHERE in Key West. Here’s just a sample of what I came across by this “SouthernmostWanted” graffiti, paste-up & sticker artist…

CYNE - Key West - 8639

CYNE

CYNE - Key West - 9116

These CYNE wheatpastes are really artful.

CYNE - Key West -

CYNE

 

CYNE - Key West -

CYNE

 

CYNE - Key West - 9138

CYNE

CYNE - Key West - 8630

CYNE & TWICE

 

CYNE - Key West - 8803

CYNE

CYNE - Key West - 8609

CYNE

CYNE & Stickers Key West - 8643

Here’s CYNE with SiD, and UTAH & ETHER – VISAH TATER – SODUH

CYNE - YU 246 - Key West - 9006

CYNE – INFOE – YU 246

graffiti - Key West - 9137

Here’s a lovely tag on a utility box. I can’t tell if it’s “Ambrose”, “Aimlose” or what… Anyone know this one?

WILZA Blue Skull Sticker - Key West - 9136

I love this WILZA blue skull paste-up. Good Style!

 

Here are two paste-ups with “Relax, Dude” using Batman & James Bond” I saw another Bond one that was even more torn off.

Relax Dude - Key West - 9070 Relax Dude - Key West - 9069

 

unknown street sticker - Key West - 9011

Here’s a nice little hand-drawn USPS Priority sticker. Anyone know who this is?

Street Stickers Key West - 8969

Here’s another really awesome sticker. I can’t decipher it. Any guesses?

 

 

icon face street sticker - Key West - 8968

Icon face with glasses USPS Priority sticker.

 

face street sticker - Key West - 8952

OK face multicolor sticker.

 

Sorria (or Soffia) sticker (Nasck?) - Key West -8833

Sorria (or Soffia) sticker. Is this NASCK???

sick street sticker - Key West - 8814

SICK double priority sticker.

 

Here are two cool skulls with hats. Reminiscent of dia de los muertos.

skull with hat street art - Key West - 8800

skull with hat & p-nut street art - Key West - 8796

Skull with sunglasses & hat (dia de los muertos) and little p-nut.

 

peat (or peal?) sticker - Key West - 8719

nice white on black peat (or peal?) sticker. Anyone know this one?

wheel painted on wood - street art - Key West - 8711

Very cool little painted wooden wheel screwed onto a telephone pole. 

 

d1NYC & more street art - Key West - 8661

d1NYC – #duelris – Adventures of Rainbow Bush & cool green stripey spray dude with his tongue out.

VISAH & (Papa George?) other stickers - Key West - 8660

Visah & Papa George?

SID sticker - Key West 0 8655

INFOE & SiD w/ Gnarles Jr. (band)

INFOE & Show Drawn stickers - Key West - 8653

INFOE & SHOWDRAWN.com

unknown street sticker - Key West - 8650

heres a very cool little tag sticker. Anyone know??

utah & ether  visah tater & grill stickers - Key West -  8647

UTAH ETHER & VISAH TATER with a nifty little GRILL sticker.

utah & ether  visah tater & grill stickers & more - Key West -  86478634

Another one of thole little grill stickers, UTAH ETHER & VISAH TATER

@infoe_stv stickers - Key West - 8646

INFOE stickers.

unknown framed street art Key West - 8638

This was a very cool little photograph, framed in wood and bolted to a street sign post.

byoungz sticker - Key West - 8631

sticker quote from @byoungz

Street Stickers Key West - 8619

RENONE

pawn works street sticker - Key West - 8612

CYNE & PawnWorks

hello my name is??? - Key West - 8611

and to finish it off, here’s an unknown “Hello my name is” hand drawn sticker.

This was a quick trip to Key West, my first time there. I put up some of my RayJohnsonFanClub collage work and also a couple of my Picturecrossing Polaroids. I’ll be posting them up here a bit later…

Ciao


Ray Johnson Fan Club hits Florida

RJFC sticker #42

RJFC sticker #42

Ray Johnson Fan Club hits Florida with trashy street art.
Read the article here: http://rayjohnsonfanclub.com/2014/01/29/fla2013/


RJFC Hits Brussels with Trashy Street Art

RJFC Hits Brussels! ~ Stickers #38, #39 & #40

Ray Johnson Fan Club sticker #40  Ray Johnson Fan Club sticker #39  Ray Johnson Fan Club sticker #38

On two separate trips to Brussels recently, I made these stickers using only trash found on the streets there.

RJFC sticker #38

RJFC Sticker #38 was completed using trash found on the streets of Brussels.

I made it while sitting at Le Pain Quotidien in the Galerie de la Reine in Brussels.

RJFC sticker #38 (left in Brussels)

I left it the same day on a wooden construction barrier beside the Montana Shop & Gallery Brussels along Rue de la Madeleine. (above)

RJFC sticker #39

RJFC Sticker #39 was also completed using trash found on the streets there

and made while sitting at Le Pain Quotidien in the Galerie de la Reine in Brussels.

RJFC sticker #39 (left in Brussels)

I left it the same day on a Taxi Parking sign in Brussels near Rue du Marché aux Herbes.(above)

RJFC sticker #40

RJFC Sticker #40 was completed a few weeks later, also using trash found on the streets of Brussels.

I made it while sitting at Café de la Presse on Avenue Louise near Ixelles in Brussels.

RJFC sticker #40 left in Brussels

I left it the same day on a Dior perfume advertisement outside the Ici Paris XL perfume shop

on Chaussée de Waterloo at the intersection of Rue Vanderkindere.

Brussels is a great place to find materials on the ground to work with and also a great place for stickers. I see new and interesting ones every time I visit.

More coming soon!

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Do you LIKE me? www.facebook.com/rayjohnsonfanclub
USING TRASH OFF THE STREETS TO MAKE ART ON THE STREETS.
I use only trash and found items to collage these handmade, signed & numbered stickers. They are made to compliment my larger works which in which I use trashy paperback book covers, record & magazine covers, CDs, posters, postcards and other mass-produced media as a base for my hand-cut & paste collages, which I usually leave out on the streets for anyone to enjoy (or destroy.)

See all my stickers here!

or find out more at: www.rayjohnsonfanclub.com SERIOUSLY TRASHY STREET ART!


Ray Johnson Fan Club hits Geneva

USING TRASH FROM THE STREETS TO MAKE ART ON THE STREETS

“Ray Johnson Fan Club” is one of my Noms de Guerre.

I use only trash and found objects in my hand-cut & paste collages.

Then I usually leave them out on the street for anyone to enjoy (or destroy.)

I made and posted four stickers and one larger collage during a recent trip to Geneva, Switzerland.

RJFC Sticker #30 RJFC sticker #32 RJFC sticker #31 RJFC sticker #33

RJFC Sticker #30

RJFC Sticker #30 was actually made 5/4/2013 using trash found on the streets of London.
I made it while on the ferry from Dover to Calais.

RJFC Sticker #30 left in Geneva
I left it in Geneva, Switzerland 5/25/2013 on a public trash can in front of the Mont Blanc store on Quai du Général-Guisan. (above)

RJFC sticker #31

RJFC Sticker #31 was completed 5/17/2013 while sitting at “Le temps d’un café” in Mons, Belgium.

RJFC sticker #31 (left in Geneva)

I left it in Geneva, Switzerland 5/26/2013 on a dog poop bag dispenser at a little park in Place de l’Octroi in the Carouge neighborhood.

RJFC sticker #32

RJFC Sticker #32 was completed 5/25/2013 using trash found on the streets of Geneva. I made it while visiting there at our rental apartment near Carouge.

RJFC sticker #32 (left in Geneva)

I left it in Geneva, Switzerland 5/26/2013 on a roundabout street sign on Rue Charles-Galland, between the Museum of Art and History and the Palais de Justice. (above)

RJFC sticker #33

RJFC Sticker #33 was completed 5/26/2013 using trash found on the streets of Geneva. I made it while visiting there at our rental apartment near Carouge.

RJFC sticker #33 (left in Geneva)

I left it 5/27/2013 on a large rusty planter in front of the Microcosm center at CERN (European Center for Nuclear Research) in Meyrin, just outside Geneva. (above)

It was a fairly productive visit for me and I also made one larger, record cover collage.

Relationship LXVI - "A new fashion of temptation without taboo in Swiss made BROADWAY"

Ray Johnson Fan Club Relationship LXVI
“A new fashion of temptation without taboo in Swiss made BROADWAY”

Click here to see where it was left!

SEE MORE OF MY COLLAGE WORK AT:

http://www.rayjohnsonfanclub.com

Thanks for looking ~ Lance Aram Rothstein

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Pierre Lefebvre at Delire Gallery in Brussels

If you’re in the neighborhood, (possibly for the Mapplethorpe show at Xavier Hufkens) don’t miss this delightful small exhibit of paintings by Pierre Lefebvre at Delire Gallery in Brussels, running through 3, August 2013.

Lefebvre is showing some very unique paintings which really draw the eye of passers-by. They are like little windows onto a world which he has chosen to present to his audience. Only the window is one of frosted glass, and the scene isn’t a majestic landscape or remarkable event. Instead Lefebvre has chosen to present little vignettes in the every-day life of towns and cities.

IMG_9033s

The back of a dusty billboard, a bird’s-eye view of a warehouse, a rat’s-eye view of a rubbish skip, these are the kinds of things you can vaguely recognize through the window Lefebvre has given you to look through. And you’re thankful. He makes you stop and smell the roses.

And sometimes those roses are just crumpled Belgian flags, laying in puddles on the ground after a visit from the King.

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Or the broken sign and missing poster from a Turkish advertising frame, somehow transformed into a portal of sorts, through which you might wish to pass into a peaceful, more pleasant world.

This isn’t the kind of work you see every day, so don’t miss your chance to catch this unique little exhibit.

 Pierre Lefebvre at Delire Gallery in Brussels, running through 3, August 2013.

ADDRESS
Rue de Praetere 47D
1050 Brussels, Belgium

GALLERY HOURS
Wednesday to Saturday, 1 to 6 pm

CONTACT
office(at)deliregallery.com

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RJFC Sticker #18 left in Paris

reblogged from http://www.rayjohnsonfanclub.com

Ray Johnson Fan Club sticker #18

RJFC Sticker #18 was completed 2/6/2013 – and left below the window of the Mail Art Exhibition at the Louis Vuitton Espace Culturel on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, France.

RJFC Sticker #18 (left in Paris)

Do you LIKE me? www.facebook.com/rayjohnsonfanclub
USING TRASH OFF THE STREETS TO MAKE ART ON THE STREETS.
I use only trash and found items to collage these handmade, signed & numbered stickers. They are made to compliment my larger works which in which I use trashy paperback book covers, record & magazine covers, posters, postcards and other mass-produced media as a base for my hand-cut & paste collages, which I usually leave out on the streets for anyone to enjoy (or destroy.)

See all my stickers here!

reblogged from http://www.rayjohnsonfanclub.com

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