Few artists symbolize modern art as much as the late Brooklyn-born artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. Opening this Sunday, the Cleveland Museum of Art presents Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks, the first major exhibition of Basquiat's notebooks, featuring more than 150 pages of rarely seen documents, including sketches, poetry, wordplay, personal observations and more. Accompanying these pages are related works on paper and large-scale paintings. This unique exhibition explores and emphasizes Basquiat's juxtaposition of images and text, and offers unprecedented insight into the role of language in his creative process.
"This exhibition provides a rare opportunity to understand better how Basquiat used the pages of his notebooks to find new ideas and ways of expression," says Reto Thüring, curator of contemporary art at the CMA. "At the same time one realizes that he conceived some of them as works of art in their own right, illustrating his talent to process what surrounded him and incorporate it into his unique artistic language."
Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks is organized by the Brooklyn Museum and curated by guest curator Dieter Buchhart and Tricia Laughlin Bloom, former associate curator of exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum. The exhibition debuted at the Brooklyn Museum in April 2015.
"This exhibition offers a great opportunity for Northeast Ohio to see a large selection of works by one of the most iconic artists of the past half-century," said Beau Rutland, CMA's associate curator of contemporary art. "Basquiat's work feels even more powerful when seen in person."
Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks is on view in the Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation Exhibition Gallery from Sunday, Jan. 22 through April 23. In conjunction with Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks, the CMA presents Downtown 81 Outtakes, a small collection of short clips from 1980-1981 in the CMA's video projection room (Gallery 224b). Additionally, the museum store features a fully illustrated catalog created to accompany the exhibition.
Although the museum's permanent galleries are free, Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks is a ticketed exhibition. However, admission is free from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 22, for a special opening day celebration. After Sunday, general admission is $10 for adults; $8 for seniors and college students; $5 for children ages 6 to 17; and free for children 5 and under. Museum members are free, and member guests are $5. CMA members can view the exhibition during Member Preview Days, from 5 to 9 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 20, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 21.