Warhol and Basquiat's legendary collaboration takes centre stage in Paris exhibition

Unveiling the collaborative masterpieces of Warhol and Basquiat at the Louis Vuitton Foundation
Unveiling the collaborative masterpieces of Warhol and Basquiat at the Louis Vuitton Foundation Copyright Credit: Fondation Louis Vuitton
Copyright Credit: Fondation Louis Vuitton
By Theo FarrantAFP
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From 5 April, 70 canvases co-created by Andy Warhol and Basquiat are being presented at the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris, in what is being billed as the world's first Warhol/Basquiat four-handed retrospective of this magnitude.


It was October 1982 when Andy Warhol, the icon of "Pop Art", met the talented emerging black artist, Jean-Michel Basquiat, nicknamed the "Radiant Child" in New York City. 

Warhol, who was already famous for his screen printing, was searching for new inspiration while Basquiat was looking for a mentor to guide him. 

Their mutual art dealer, Bruno Bischofberger, introduced them and Warhol took a self-portrait of the pair with his Polaroid camera.

Basquiat, who was only 22 years old at the time, took the photo home and came back two hours later with a portrait he had just painted. 

Credit: The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts
'Dos Cabezas' by Jean-Michel Basquiat (1982)Credit: The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts

Warhol was blown away, and their extraordinary partnership began, leading to the creation of 160 "four-handed" canvases from 1983 to 1985.

From today (5 April), 70 of these canvases are presented at the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris, in what is being billed as the world's first Warhol / Basquiat four-handed retrospective of this magnitude. 

The most successful collaboration in the history of art between two great artists

Dieter Buchhart, Basquiat specialist, and chief curator of the exhibition, said that it is "certainly the most successful collaboration in the history of art between two great artists, never equalled at this level and in this time frame." 

Who were Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat?

Richard Drew/1985 AP
ndy Warhol, left, and Jean-Michel Basquiat pose in front of their collaborative paintings on display at the Tony Shafrazi Gallery in New York, 24 September 1985Richard Drew/1985 AP

Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat are considered two of the most influential artists of the 20th century. Their collaboration in the 1980s not only produced some of the most memorable art of the era but also sparked a unique and creative partnership between two of the art world's biggest names.

Andy Warhol was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1928. He was a leading figure in the Pop Art movement, known for his bold, colourful, and often controversial artworks. 

Warhol gained fame in the 1960s with his silkscreen prints of famous people and everyday objects, such as Campbell's Soup cans and Coca-Cola bottles. 

His work challenged the traditional concepts of art and blurred the boundaries between soc-called high and low culture.

Jean-Michel Basquiat was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1960 and quickly gained attention in the New York art scene for his expressive, abstract, and politically charged artworks, often featuring skulls, crowns and masks.

Basquiat's work was heavily influenced by African-American and Latino culture, as well as street art and the avant-garde.

The "Radiant Child" was initially hesitant about working with Warhol, whom he considered a symbol of the establishment he had been rebelling against. However, the two quickly formed a close bond and began collaborating on the "four-handed" canvases. 

The paintings were a reflection of the two artists' shared interests in celebrity culture, consumerism, and the politics of race and identity.

Credit: The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts
Jean Michel and Andy at 860 Broadway, October 26, 1983Credit: The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts
A conversation occurring through painting, instead of words
Keith Haring

Keith Haring, who witnessed their friendship and collaboration production, would go on to speak of a “conversation occurring through painting, instead of words,” and of two minds merging to create a “third distinctive and unique mind.” 

But Warhol and Basquiat's partnership was not without its challenges. The two had vastly different working styles and often clashed over creative decisions. In addition, their friendship was strained by personal issues, such as drug use and rumours of a romantic relationship between them.

Despite their differences, Warhol's impact on Basquiat's artistic expression cannot be overstated. Even after Warhol's untimely death in 1987, Basquiat continued to create works in homage to his friend and mentor. 


Sadly, Basquiat himself passed away the following year at just 27 years old due to an accidental drug overdose.

What to expect from the exhibition

A visitor looks at "African Masks" at the exhibition "Basquiat X Warhol. Painting Four Hands" at the Louis Vuitton Foundation in ParisBERTRAND GUAY/AFP

The exhibition opens with a series of portraits of Basquiat by Warhol and of Warhol by Basquiat. 

It then continues with their early collaborations, which were initiated by their dealer Bruno Bischofberger and benefited from a collaboration with the Italian artist Francesco Clemente. 

After completing these 15 paintings together with Clemente, Basquiat and Warhol pursued their collaboration on an almost daily basis, with enthusiasm and complicity.

The energy and force of their incessant exchanges are the driving force of the exhibition, running through all of the galleries in the Foundation, featuring highlights such as the monumental sculpture "Ten Punching Bags (Last Supper)" or the 8-meter canvas "African Mask". 

A visitor looks “at Felix the Cat”, a painting made Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol, during a preview of the exhibition "Basquiat X Warhol. Painting Four Hands.BERTRAND GUAY/AFP
The entrance of the Basquiat/Warhol: Painting four hands exhibition at the Fondation Louis VuittonBERTRAND GUAY/AFP

The exhibition showcases the dialogues of styles and forms that tackle crucial subjects such as the integration of the African-American community into the narrative of North-America. 

It also evokes the energy of the New York downtown art scene of the 1980s by featuring individual works by each artist and a set of works by other major artists such as Futura 2000, Michael Halsband, Keith Haring, Jenny Holzer, and Kenny Scharf.

This one is certainly a must-see for anyone interested in the art of the 1980s and the influence that two artists can have on each other.

Check out the video above for a sneak peek inside the exhibition.

Video editor • Theo Farrant

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