“I recharge his batteries”: Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol in pictures

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Previously unseen pictures from Warhol’s personal archive.

Few artistic relationships have been as charged, mythologised and misunderstood as that between Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol. Figures who continually interrogated and subverted the role of celebrity, and the commodification of identity in the art world, Basquiat and Warhol appear as larger than life characters, where the line between personal and public was sometimes too blurry to distinguish. As Shabaka Hutchings told us in a recent interview, “when I see pictures of Basquiat, I get the sense of a person who is comfortable with himself and himself as an image.”

Contributing to the Untitled compilation, which takes themes of identity and representation raised by Basquiat into a musical realm, Hutchings’ assertion is born out in a new book of previously unseen images from Andy Warhol’s personal collection, which depict intimate scenes of their daily lives in downtown NYC. At times, like in the first photo below, the pair are almost too aware of the camera, and the power of the image they are creating. A supposedly private meeting in Warhol’s studio, staged as if the world is watching.

At other moments, the pictures reveal something less rehearsed – Basquait having his nails done, with an almost sheepish innocence that reflects his relative youth, or caught mid DJ-set at his own birthday, looking less than comfortable with the rotary mixer.

In Jennifer Clement’s superb adapted memoir of Suzanne Mallouk, Basquiat’s long-suffering soulmate and muse, she recalls a question Suzanne asks Jean-Michel about Andy. “Why, why does he need you?” she asks. “I recharge his batteries,” Jean-Michel answers. It is this energy that Basquiat emits to those around him which has drawn so many into and beyond his world.

It is also the energy which the 18 artists on Untitled have sought to tap into, and one which fizzes from every one of these new images – treading that line between the personal and the public.


Together in Andy’s studio, August 15, 1983
Copyright: © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.


Jean Michel at Yanna’s nail salon, August 29, 1983
Copyright: © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.


Keith Haring, Andy Warhol and Jean Michel at Andy’s studio at 860 Broadway, April 23, 1984
Copyright: © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.


Jean Michel’s birthday party at Area nightclub, December 19, 1985
Copyright: © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.


Fab Five Freddy, Tracy Camilla Johns and Jean Michel at the opening for Spike Lee’s She’s Got to Have It, August 1986
Copyright: © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.


Warhol On Basquiat: The Iconic Relationship Told in Andy Warhol’s Words and Pictures is published by Taschen.


Continue exploring Basquiat on VF:

Jean-Michel changed my life – Artists reflect on Basquiat’s legacy

The making of Untitled – A podcast with Anja Ngozi & Lexy Morvaridi

Changed Streets Soundtrack – Lord Tusk’s homage to Jean-Michel Basquiat

“I recharge his batteries”: Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol in pictures

Legendary DJ Justin Strauss on Basquiat’s New York City

Crate Diggers: Wu-Lu

Dem1ns: Kwake Bass on the music and print crew flipping the script on collaboration

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