Basquiat’s “Defacement”: The Untold Story at Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, June 21 – November 6, 2019

“The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum presents Basquiat’s “Defacement”: The Untold Story. This focused, thematic exhibition of work by Jean-Michel Basquiat (American, 1960–1988), supplemented with work by others of his generation, explores a formative chapter in the artist’s career through the lens of his identity and the role of cultural activism in New York City during the early 1980s.

The exhibition takes as its starting point the painting The Death of Michael Stewart, informally known as Defacement, created by Basquiat in 1983 to commemorate the fate of the young, black artist Michael Stewart at the hands of New York City transit police after allegedly tagging a wall in an East Village subway station. Originally painted on the wall of Keith Haring’s studio, the work was not meant to be seen widely and has rarely been exhibited in a public context. With approximately twenty paintings and works on paper by Basquiat and his contemporaries, this presentation will examine Basquiat’s exploration of black identity, his protest against police brutality, and his attempts to craft a singular aesthetic language of empowerment.” — Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Basquiat’s “Defacement”: The Untold Story is organized by guest curator Chaédria LaBouvier.

Jean-Michel Basquiat. The Death of Michael Stewart, 1983. Acrylic and marker on plasterboard, framed: 86.4 x 101.6 cm. Collection of Nina Clemente, New York © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York. Photo: Allison Chipak © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, 2018

Jean-Michel Basquiat. La Hara, 1981. Acrylic and oilstick on wood panel, 182.9 x 121.9 cm. Arora Collection © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York

Jean-Michel Basquiat. Charles the First, 1982. Acrylic and oil stick on canvas, three panels, 198.1 x 165.1 cm. Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York

Jean-Michel Basquiat. Back of the Neck, 1983. Screenprint with hand-coloring on paper, 127.6 x 259.1 cm. Edition 1/24. Brooklyn Museum, Charles Stewart Smith Memorial Fund © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York

Jean-Michel Basquiat. Untitled (Sheriff), 1981. Acrylic and oilstick on canvas, 130.8 x 188 cm. Carl Hirschmann Collection © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York

David Hammons. The Man Nobody Killed, 1986. Stenciled paint on commercially printed cardboard with cut-and-taped photocopy from a spiral bound periodical with works by various artists. From Eye magazine, no. 14, “Cobalt Myth Mechanics,” 1986. Publisher: Eye Publications, New York, Printer: the artist, New York. Each page: 27.9 x 21.6 cm, closed: 27.9 x 22.9 x 1.9 cm. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Henry Church Fund (by exchange), 2015 © The Museum of Modern Art. Licensed by SCALA/ARS New York

Keith Haring. Michael Stewart – USA for Africa, 1985. Enamel and acrylic on canvas, 294.6 x 365.8 cm. Collection of Monique and Ziad Ghandour © The Keith Haring Foundation

Card for benefit at Danceteria, October 3, 1983 19.4 x 14 cm. Collection of Franck Goldberg. Photo: Allison Chipak © The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation

“Remember Michael Stewart” button, 1984. Design by Eric Drooker, 3.8 x 3.8 x 0.5 cm. Collection of Patricia A. Pesce, New York. Photo: Allison Chipak © The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation

Images courtesy Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.