Art from the Big Apple

Art from the Big Apple

QE’s final-year A-level Art students took a trip to the Barbican to see the UK’s first large exhibition of the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat.

A pioneering prodigy of the 1980s downtown New York art scene, Basquiat worked with leading figures from the city, including Andy Warhol, the rock band Blondie and fellow artist Keith Haring.

Entitled Boom for Real, the Barbican show is an aggregation of pivotal pieces that chronicle the creative exploits of the young artist as he transitioned from teenage provocateur to international forerunner.

Art teacher Jillian McAteer said: “We were led through the exhibition by an informative tour guide who elaborated upon the wider connections of the work. We were shown how poetic graffiti, candid self-portraits, collaged postcards and playful bebop alluded to experiences of racism, consumerism, art history and fantasy.

“Basquiat’s practice is relevant to the current A-level class in a number of ways.  Some students are interested in his use of media, colour or text, while others are concerned with the aesthetic, social or personal questions he raised.

“The class are currently coming to the end of a significant body of research and the outcomes are both diverse and intriguing.” This year’s A-level work has several similarities with Basquiat, demonstrating the potential breadth and depth of artistic practice by encompassing diverse activities such as personal reflection and political debate, she explained.