Jean-Michel Basquiat

Discover Basquiat’s art—and his bedtime reading— at Prospect 3

During his lifetime, Jean-Michel Basquiat (right) kept a copy of the book Flash of the Spirit—considered to be one of the seminal works ­on Afro-Atlantic art and thinking—on his bedside table.

Now, 26 years after his death, the artist’s relationship to the text will be reconsidered in a conference at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans on 11 and 12 December. Robert Farris Thompson, the book’s author, will give the keynote speech at the conference, which will accompany the exhibition “Basquiat and the Bayou”, a show-within-a-show that is part of the Prospect 3 biennial (25 October-25 January 2015). The biennial has been organised by Franklin Sirmans, the chief curator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, who says that “it was one thing to have the learned experience of going to museums, which the artist did from an early age, and another thing to pursue his own art intuitively as a teenager. But in Flash of the Spirit, as for other young artists in New York in the 1980s, Basquiat found a text that understood the synergy to be found when uptown meets downtown, rap meets punk and Africa meets America on its own terms.”

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Appeared in The Art Newspaper Archive, 261 October 2014