“When he was hopscotching between segregated poles of 1970s and ’80s New York — the uptown of Grandmaster Flash and the Rock Steady Crew; the downtown of Andy Warhol and Blondie — brokering the kind of cultural exchange that would pave the way for hip-hop’s eventual takeover, Fred Brathwaite, better known as Fab 5 Freddy, never kept a consistent diary. Instead, decades before social media, he documented the events of his daily life on film, deploying either a compact point-and-shoot camera or a Hi8 camcorder that he always kept at the ready. … As a sought-after graffiti artist, music video director, film producer and the original host and creative force behind ‘Yo! MTV Raps,’ Fab 5 Freddy’s lens produced a panorama of future cultural landmarks of New York and beyond, revealing an era when hierarchies of race, class and taste in art were beginning to scramble. His personal photographs and videos, and the narratives they tell, comprise much of a career-spanning archive that was recently acquired by the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, part of the New York Public Library. …”
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. …”
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.
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. …”
NY Times: The Doorman at the Mudd Club Tells All
Basquiat’s world: Downtown NYC and the Mudd Club (Audio)
amazon: The Mudd Club
“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)
“Downtown 81 (a.k.a. New York Beat Movie) is a film that was shot in 1980-1981 and released in 2000. The film, directed by Edo Bertoglio and written and produced by Glenn O’Brien and Patrick Montgomery, with post-production in 1999-2000 by Glenn O’Brien and Maripol, is a rare real-life snapshot of an ultra-hip subculture of post-punk era Manhattan. Starring renowned artist Jean-Michel Basquiat and featuring such Village artists as James Chance, Amos Poe, Walter Steding, and Tav Falco, the film is a bizarre elliptical urban fairy tale. In 1999, Michael Zilkha, founder of ZE Records (the label of several of the film’s artists), became the film’s executive producer. The film opens with Jean (Basquiat) in the hospital with an undisclosed ailment. After checking out, he happens upon an enigmatic woman, Beatrice (Anna Schroeder), who drives around in a convertible. He arrives at his apartment only to discover that his landlord, played by former Yardbirds manager Giorgio Gomelsky, is evicting him. … Jean-Michel Basquiat was homeless at the time of the movie and slept in the production office during most of the shooting. The film production crew bought Basquiat canvas and paints to make paintings for the film. The paintings that appear in the movie belonging to Basquiat’s character are by Basquiat himself, and among his first canvases. … The soundtrack features music by: Jean-Michel Basquiat with Andy Hernandez; Basquiat’s own band, Gray; John Lurie and the Lounge Lizards, DNA, Tuxedomoon, the Plastics, Marvin Pontiac, Kenny Burrell, the Specials, Chris Stein, Melle Mel with Blondie, Liquid Liquid, Kid Creole and the Coconuts, James White and the Blacks, Vincent Gallo, Lydia Lunch, Steve French and Suicide. Many of the recordings were of live performances, but DNA and Tuxedomoon were recorded in the studio for the soundtrack. …”
Archive: Downtown 81 1:07:02