‘Jean-Michel Basquiat’ at the Brant Shows His Bifurcated Life


Detail of Basquiat’s text-filled “Museum Security (Broadway Meltdown),” from 1983, acrylic, oilstick and paper collage on canvas.

“A few years ago, a plaza in Paris was named after the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, the Brooklyn-born painter who became a global sensation in the early 1980s and died at 27 of a heroin overdose. No similar honor has been bestowed upon Basquiat by the City of New York. However, the opening of the Brant Foundation Art Study Center in the East Village, with an exhibition of nearly 70 works by Basquiat created from 1980 to 1987, serves as a fitting temporary shrine. The Brant in Manhattan is also part of a wave of private museums opening across the country, including the Hill Art Foundation in Chelsea; the expansion of Glenstone in Maryland; and the Marciano and Broad collections in Los Angeles. But first, Basquiat. The story of this painter of Haitian and Puerto-Rican descent is one of the most documented in contemporary art history. Basquiat moved to Manhattan — partly to escape his strict accountant father — couch-surfed, lived off girlfriends and formed a post-punk band called Gray after ‘Gray’s Anatomy.’ He sprayed poetic, enigmatic graffiti on walls in downtown Manhattan before moving to canvas and starred in an independent film, ‘Downtown 81.’ He dated Madonna before she was famous and made paintings with his hero-turned-friend, Andy Warhol. …”
NY Times


Installation view of “Jean-Michel Basquiat,” the inaugural exhibition of the Brant Foundation’s New York space in the East Village. A salon-style wall on the second floor includes a grid of 16 paintings from 1982.

The Mudd Club


Anita Sarko DJ-ing at the Mudd Club, ca. 1980.
The Mudd Club was a nightclub in the TriBeCa area of New York City, USA, that operated from 1978 to 1983 as a venue for underground music and counterculture events. It was located at 77 White Street in downtown Manhattan and was opened by Steve Mass, art curator Diego Cortez and downtown punk scene figure Anya Phillips. The Mudd Club was named after Samuel Alexander Mudd, a doctor who treated John Wilkes Booth in the aftermath of Abraham Lincoln‘s assassination. It closed in New York in 1983. In order to secure the space for the Mudd Club (a loft owned by artist Ross Bleckner), Steve Mass described the future venue as cabaret. Mass claimed to have started the nightclub on a budget of only $15,000. The club featured a bar, gender-neutral bathrooms and a rotating gallery curated by Keith Haring on the fourth floor. Live performances included new wave, experimental music, literary icons Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs, and catwalk exhibitions for emerging fashion designers Anna Sui and Jasper Conran. From the start it functioned as an ‘amazing antidote to the uptown glitz of Studio 54 in the ’70s’. As it became more frequented by downtown celebrities, a door policy was established and it acquired a chic, often elitist reputation. The Mudd Club was frequented by many of Manhattan’s up-and-coming cult celebrities. Other individuals associated with the venue included musicians Lou Reed, Johnny Thunders, David Byrne, Debbie Harry, Arto Lindsay, John Lurie, Nico with Jim Tisdall, Lydia Lunch, X, the Cramps, the B-52’s, the Bongos and Judas Priest; artist Jean-Michel Basquiat and his then-girlfriend Madonna; performers Klaus Nomi and John Sex; designers Betsey Johnson, Maripol and Marisol; and underground filmmakers Amos Poe; Vincent Gallo, Kathy Acker, and Glenn O’Brien. …”
Wikipedia
NY Times: The Doorman at the Mudd Club Tells All
Basquiat’s world: Downtown NYC and the Mudd Club (Audio)
amazon: The Mudd Club

Black History Month: Post-Soul Culture Circa 1992


“… In the March 17, 1992, issue of the Voice, contributor Nelson George surveyed the ‘post-soul’ landscape and discovered that, ‘as a musical genre, a definition of African American culture, and the code word for our national identity, soul has pretty much been dead since Nixon’s reelection in 1972. But what’s replaced it? Arguing in these pages in 1986, Greg Tate tried to establish a ‘new black aesthetic’ as a defining concept. He had a point, though I’d argue there was more than one aesthetic at work. For better and worse, the spawn of the postsoul era display multiple personalities.’ Indeed, over seventeen pages George explores a broad spectrum of post-soul black aesthetics, and the Voice’s art department helped with diptychs comparing and contrasting Malcolm X to KRS-One and Muhammad Ali and Bundini Brown to Chuck D and Flavor Flav, as well as triptychs of Lisa Bonet and Magic Johnson. …”
Voice

No Wave Is Boring


“Can boredom be art? Can good art be boring? When a work of art is deemed boring, it’s usually an automatic, accepted pejorative. After all, who would want to be bored by art? Yet some artists have actually imagined positive, counterintuitive answers to those seemingly obvious questions. In some particularly vital cases, those answers themselves were inspired by boredom – by the creativity that can arise out of being bored, and desperately wanting to do something about it. The boredom that infected the intersecting music and film scenes called no wave was a distinct product of time and place. New York City in the late 1970s was empty, dangerous and practically cost-free – a bombed-out wasteland open to anyone fearless enough to squat in an abandoned building and siphon electricity from street lights. In their confrontational, rule-rejecting work, no wave artists reacted to the recent past – the bloating of rock music, the homogenization of cinema, the staid pretension of the art world – but also dealt with their numbing present. They faced a gaping hole created by the droves fleeing Manhattan, and a ‘blank generation’” that punk started but didn’t complete. It was up to no wave to blast away the remaining rubble. …”
Red Bull Music Academy Daily (Video)

The Kitchen


The Kitchen is a non-profit, multi-disciplinary art and performance space located at 512 West 19th Street, between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. It was founded in Greenwich Village in 1971 by Steina and Woody Vasulka, who were frustrated at the lack of an outlet for video art. The space takes its name from the original location, the kitchen of the Mercer Arts Center which was the only available place for the artists to screen their video pieces. Although first intended as a location for the exhibition of video art, The Kitchen soon expanded its mission to include other forms of art and performance. In 1974, The Kitchen relocated to a building at the corner of Wooster and Broome Streets in SoHo, and incorporated as a not-for-profit arts organization. In 1987 it moved to its current location. The first music director of The Kitchen was composer Rhys Chatham. The venue became known as a place where many No Wave bands like Glenn Branca, Lydia Lunch and James Chance performed. Notable Kitchen alumni also include Philip Glass, Laurie Anderson, Rocco Di Pietro, John Moran, Jay Scheib, Young Jean Lee’s Theater Company, Peter Greenaway, Michael Nyman, Steve Reich, Pauline Oliveros, Gordon Mumma, Frederic Rzewski, Ridge Theater, The Future Sound of London, Leisure Class, Elliott Sharp, Brian Eno, Arthur Russell, Meredith Monk, Arleen Schloss, Vito Acconci, Keshavan Maslak, Elaine Summers, Lucinda Childs, Bill T. Jones, David Byrne/Talking Heads, chameckilerner, John Jasperse, Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly, ETHEL, Chris McIntyre, Sylvie Degiez, Wayne Lopes/CosmicLegends, and Cindy Sherman. Today, The Kitchen focuses on presenting emerging artists, most of whom are local, and is committed to advancing work that is experimental in nature. Its facilities include a 155-seat black box performance space and a gallery space for audio and visual exhibitions. The Kitchen presents work in music, dance, performance, video, film, visual art, and literature. …”
Wikipedia
The Kitchen in Chelsea

Colab


Colab show catalogue, Moore College of Art, Philadelphia, PA, 1983

“The story of ABC No Rio is part of a broad current, a cultural milieu that Alan Moore and I sought to chart in the first half of the No Rio book. As an art space guided by an ideal of interaction with the surrounding community, No Rio was paralleled by other artists’ organizations, especially Collaborative Projects Inc., out of which came many of the artists who worked in and ran No Rio. Alan was an early member of Colab, officially formed in 1978, when a group of about thirty young artists created a non-profit organization to take advantage of newly available state and federal grants. With its membership open to anyone willing to attend monthly meetings, Colab was a constantly changing nexus of artists. Members proposed projects, and the group’s funds were allocated by democratic vote, generally supporting group exhibitions, publications and film/video projects that were open to all who wanted to participate. Members of the group were diverse in both their aesthetics and beliefs; yet the way Colab functioned as a social network and as an open democratic forum assured a commitment to the principle of collaboration and the cross-fertilization of ideas. In those early years one could even identify a shared group philosophy: an amorphous mix of art-world pragmatism flavored with left-wing politics and a new punk-style irreverence. Many familiar names in the art world were part of Colab: Charlie Ahearn, John Ahearn, Beth B, Liza Bear, Scott Billingsley, Diego Cortez, Jane Dickson, Stefan Eins, Colen Fitzgibbon, Bobby G, Jenny Holzer, Becky Howland, Joe Lewis, Michael McClard, Eric Mitchell, Alan Moore, James Nares, Joseph Nechvatal, Tom Otterness, Judy Rifka, Walter Robinson, Christy Rupp, Kiki Smith, Anton van Dalen, Tom Warren, and Robin Winters, to name just a few. …”
98 Bowery

The Chicago Murals

Theoretical Girls – “U.S. Millie”/”You Got Me” (1978)


Theoretical Girls were a New York-based no wave band formed by Glenn Branca and Jeff Lohn (a conceptual artist and composer) that existed from 1977 to 1981. Theoretical Girls played only about 20 shows (three of which took place in Paris). It released one single (‘U.S. Millie’/’You Got Me’), which had some attention in England where it sold a few thousand copies. The band was never signed by a record company, but is well regarded as an early leading No Wave group that mixed classical modern ideas of composition with punk rock. This experimental music was mostly supported by the New York art world and minimal art music audience. … Theoretical Girls was formed after Branca and Lohn’s previous group the Static and performed its first show at the Experimental Intermedia Foundation. Artist Jeff Wall came up with the band’s name during a discussion of women making conceptual art. The Theoretical Girls were among the most enigmatic of the late 1970s no wave bands of the New York underground rock scene, famous not so much for their music, since they released only one single during their brief existence, but because the group launched the careers of two of New York’s best known experimental music figures, composer Glenn Branca and producer Wharton Tiers. The latter played drums, the former guitar in the quartet, which also featured keyboardist Margaret De Wys and vocalist/guitarist Jeffrey Lohn, a classically trained composer who, like Branca and so many others in the no wave scene, wasn’t interested in working with popular musical forms until inspired to do so by the explosion of punk rock. The group’s sound shared aesthetics with the other no wave bands working in Manhattan at the time, such as The Contortions and DNA. Always confrontational and often funny in an aggressive way, the band’s sound consistently displayed the influence of American minimalist composers, ranging from sparse, clattering rhythm pieces that sound like immediate forebears of early 1980s Sonic Youth, to abrasive slabs of art-punk noise music. …”
Wikipedia
Theoretical Girls
YouTube: US Millie, You Got Me