Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988) and Egon Schiele (1890-1918) are two painters linked by their fascinating intensity and brief artistic lives… and, notably, both saw themselves as prophetic. The Foundation Louis Vuitton recently featured these two seminal artists in exhibitions that ran October 2018 through mid-January 2019.
Schiele’s career was featured through 110 works, primarily drawings from private collections, and shared his mastery of expressionism in Vienna. He was influenced by Klimt, but emerged with a uniquely passionate output through twisted figures that express a deeply feeling reality of tragic life. His body of work, after he passed from the Spanish influenza in 1918, left behind 300 paintings and several thousand drawings from his 10 active artistic years.
Basquiat’s entire career was just eight years, from 1980-1988, and recently the Foundation Louis Vuitton in Paris was able to at one time cover is prolific output while focusing in on 120 defining works: notably Heads and collaborations between the artist and Andy Warhol. The curatorial team led by Suzanne Pagé compiled works unseen in Europe, or seen rarely since their first presentations during the artist’s lifetime.
Said top Basquiat authority and co-curator Dieter Burchhart “This is the most comprehensive Basquiat show, and perhaps one day, one of the other great museums will try it again, but it will be very, very, very hard. It will kind of be a ‘Mission: Impossible,’” Buchhart said during a phone call from Paris. “It was already now a sort of ‘Mission: Impossible,’ and of course, in a couple of years, it will be even more of a ‘Mission: Impossible.’”
According to Artsy, Basquiat’s market has shot up in the last few years, he said, and a show of 120 works needs a massively well-endowed museum to cover the insurance costs of shipping and hosting dozens of paintings that could be worth more than $10 million, and at least one that is worth much more than that: the untitled 1982 skull painting Yusaku Maezawa bought at Sotheby’s New York in May 2017 for $110.5 million. The lack of institutional interest in Basquiat during his lifetime and in the decades when the late artist’s work was relatively affordable means that the bulk of his work is still in the hands of private collectors, many of whom are reticent to let the public see their holdings, or even send them away on loans.