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Ménage à trois

Warhol, Basquiat, Clemente

10 February to 20 May 2012

The New York art scene of the 1980s is the stuff of legend. Buoyant and creative, it was open to all kinds of new media and offered young talents a spectacular arena of opportunity. Graffiti artists took art to the streets, others brought the everyday into their studios. The quest for innovation meant that all traditions were up for grabs and relentlessly questioned. Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Francesco Clemente – three of the main protagonists of the time – are presented in this major exhibition. At the heart of the show are the collaborative works by the three artists. To highlight their very different artistic temperaments the exhibition will also present a wide range of non-collaborative works by each of the artists that exemplify their individual style. Whereas Andy Warhol, one of the founders of Pop Art, focused on the graphic and serial aspects of art, working in a clear and often seemingly detached manner, young Jean-Michel Basquiat burst upon the scene with a style that was as furious as it was expressive, a raw mix of symbols, pictograms and letters rooted in the urban graffiti idiom. The paintings by the Italian American Transavanguardia artist Francesco Clemente, on the other hand, often seem dream-like, mystical and almost surreal.

In 1983, Warhol was 55 years old and could already look back on a glamorous career that included the legendary Factory, the magazine Interview, the Velvet Underground and Studio 54. He had developed a clearly defined style that drew heavily on the collective visual memory, icons of art history and mass media.

Basquiat, 23 years of age, had made a name for himself in the late 1970s as the graffiti artist SAMO (in collaboration with Al Diaz). He embarked on painting with a raw and unfiltered dynamism that was all his own, sampling and translating his environment and experience into a new aesthetics.

The Italian artist Francesco Clemente, then 31 years old, came from an entirely different background. Having spent extensive periods of time in India, where he discovered collaborative work as a coming together of different mindsets, he had arrived in New York in 1981. His paintings explore questions of interior and exterior, self and other, mind and body. By the same token, his work with contemporary writers – two examples are shown in this exhibition – bears witness to his different approach to the concept of collaborative creativity.

Our idea of art is predicated on uniqueness, individuality and, above all, on the notion of the artist's very own style. The collaborative works of the three artists playfully refute the concept of individuality. They reflect the era, the pop star status of artists and the new view they had of themselves, their origin, myths and their fascination with each other.

Show bibliography
Illustrations

    Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland

    Museumsmeile Bonn
    Friedrich-Ebert-Allee 4
    53113 Bonn
    T +49 228 9171–200

    Opening hours

    Mondays closed
    Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 10 a.m.–9 p.m.
    Thursdays–Sundays, 10 a.m.–7 p.m.
    (including public holidays even those which fall on Mondays)

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