Due to the success of the exhibition, we advise you to visit the Fondation in the morning or from 5 p.m.


  • 1984
  • Jean-Michel Basquiat
  • Oil, acrylic, oilstick, collage and nails on wood Quadriptych
  • 243,8 x 537,2 x 47 cm
The first and third panels instantly attract the eye. Two giant figures, one topped with a piece of black wood studded with nails, the other with a gold crown, stand out against the white background which is covered in a collage of signs, drawings and fragments of phrases. A vertical bar bristling with nails separates the first panel from its neighbour, which is a deep green colour, covered in drawings and white patches. The fourth panel is more abstract, featuring a mixture of yellows and greens, edged by a vertical bar covered with nails. The work borrows from the world of graffiti but also evokes, with its use of nails and fragments of texts, the power attributed to symbols, religious objects and fetishes typical of African and Caribbean traditions. Through his references to collage and recycling in the style of Rauschenberg and to the plastic efficiency of the urban world inherited from Warhol, Basquiat demonstrates his ability to transcend different cultural sources and create a personal style brimming with youthful energy.


Jean-Michel Basquiat

Jean-Michel Basquiat, an American with a Haitian father, gained recognition as an artist in the 1980s. His rise to prominence was swift but his career was cut short. Between 1977 and 1980 he was a graffiti artist, tagging his mysterious, subversive messages with the name SAMO©. By 1980 he was frequenting artists such as Andy Warhol, Keith Haring and Francesco Clemente, and abandoned graffiti for painting.

Buoyed by the energy of hip hop with its sampling, scratching and DJ culture, his practice drew on many influences such as Picasso, Penck, Schwitters, Dubuffet as well as Cobra movement, jazz and voodoo. His frame of reference expanded to include history and global literature, from Homer to Napoleon and Malcolm X. His style was characterised by a bold and sparing colour palette, and the use of symbols such as the crown and skull, as well as numbers and scientific formulas. Like palimpsests, his works feature layers of drawing, scratches, painting, collages of photocopies and objects. The chaotic complexity of his compositions reveals a spontaneous exuberance and a mastery of different materials and techniques, from acrylic to screen-printing, markers to sprays.

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