Banksy strikes again, with nod to artist Jean-Michel Basquiat

Street artist Banksy paid tribute to the late Jean-Michel Basquiat with two new murals at the Barbican Centre in London.
Street artist Banksy paid tribute to the late Jean-Michel Basquiat with two new murals at the Barbican Centre in London.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • People lining up at a ticket booth under a Ferris wheel. Police officers questioning a skeleton figure as his dog looks on.

Two new Banksys have popped up at the Barbican Centre here, authenticated last Sunday by the British graffiti artist on his Instagram account.

The pieces, which refer to the work of American artist Jean- Michel Basquiat, appear to herald the start of a major exhibition of Basquiat's work, opening on Thursday at the Barbican Centre.

"Major new Basquiat show opens at the Barbican - a place that is normally very keen to clean any graffiti from its walls," Banksy wrote alongside the black-and-white image of the Ferris wheel, which displays crowns, a popular Basquiat motif.

Under the image of the boy and the police, a reference to Basquiat's 1982 Boy And Dog In A Johnnypump, Banksy wrote: "Portrait of Basquiat being welcomed by the Metropolitan police - an (unofficial) collaboration with the new Basquiat show."

The artworks are perhaps an homage. Basquiat, who died of a suspected drug overdose at 27 in 1988, began his career as a graffiti artist before going on to become a celebrated art-world figure, acclaimed for his primitive, boldly coloured figures, textual fragments and raw imagery that often referred to African history, slavery and colonialism.

The Barbican exhibition, Boom For Real, is the first large-scale British show of Basquiat's work and will feature more than 100 works as well as notebooks, photographs and archival materials.

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 20, 2017, with the headline 'Banksy strikes again, with nod to artist Jean-Michel Basquiat'. Print Edition | Subscribe