Jean Michel Basquiat Exhibition in Vienna

Basquiat self portraits

A day at the Albertina Museum

A few days ago I took the opportunity to break away from my office and once again see a few exhibitions. Especially the long-awaited one by Jean-Michel Basquiat. When I first saw an image of one of his works some 20 years ago, it struck me like a lightning bolt. Shortly after that I was in Venice with my son, who was very young at the time, and there was a Basquiat exhibition, but I was afraid it wasn’t suitable for a toddler, so I didn’t. And now the time had finally come: a Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibition in Vienna’s Albertina.

Jean-Michel Basquiat Exhibition in Vienna

There are exhibitions that give me impulses and make me want to paint myself. However, Basquiat is of such greatness that afterward, I ask myself whether it makes any sense at all to continue painting.

Jean-Michel Basquiat painting with knight

In case anyone missed it: In May 2017, a painting of Basquiat was sold at Sotheby’s for US$110 million, making it the most expensive modern painting.

big Basquiat painting

In short, it is a highly recommended exhibition, reflecting various phases of his life and work, well-curated, documented and hung, and accordingly impressive. It never ceases to amaze me how artists like him – he was only 27 years old – can create so much great art in their short lives. His drug use, which was ultimately his undoing, can only partially explain this.

Jean-Michel Basquiat object

I was particularly impressed by his self-portraits, which reflect his artistic ability in a concentrated manner.

Basquiat self portraits


In the same museum, there are 2 other exhibitions at the same time and one is something extraordinary – pictures from the Impressionists such as Monet to Cezanne, Giacometti, Blaue Reiter, Max Ernst, and his Surrealist circle to Picasso. They come from a private collector (Herbert Batliner collection) and some of the work is outstanding.

A question that has plagued me for ages, however, is why, not only with the Impressionists but even with Picasso, such pompous, totally inappropriate frames are used.

It is said that one can argue about taste and that is certainly true, only in this case can I not recognize the taste.

pablo picasso painting

related: After visiting a Gerhard Richter exhibition

Zettl Fine Arts

paintings graphics calligraphy

26 comments on “Jean Michel Basquiat Exhibition in Vienna

A great collection of Basquiat paintings assembled here. Yes, what a remarkable talent, his death at 27 from a drug overdose was such a tragic loss.
I sure agree with you about ugly frames – the one around the Picasso is hideous indeed and a grotesque distraction from the painting.

Thank you! Yes, the frame is too dominant and takes the power out of the picture. You can see it particularly well if you see the picture next to each other with and without a frame.

The picture of Picasso has something frivolous about it. The frame fits it in my opinion. It is, like the picture, somewhat decadent. I like it.

In my opinion, the frame is too dominant and robs the image of its strength.

Do we know if Picasso wanted this frame? Did he choose it?

I don’t think so. If we look at exhibitions from the time Picasso was still alive we do not see such frames. And it is not only Picasso – so many of the Impressionist paintings look the same. Some frames just kill the painting.

Basquiat profited from being in the right place at the right time and being recognized by discerning viewers. He was a fortunate, talented artist who pushed his luck too far. Such is the fate of many talented celebrities.

Yes, indeed. Well, one can not do such work by living on herbal tea and veggies. I never knew he was working this hard.

Yes, burning the candle at both ends is unwise.

His work is quite incredible. I had never heard of him before your post.

Thank you.

So I am happy I wrote this post 🙂 You know he was a close friend of Andy Warhol?

No, I did not know they were friends. I do love his use of color and expression, just exquisite.

How fantastic that you got to view this exhibition. I would love to see the works of any of those artists – and yours, of course. I agree with you 100% on the frame issue. The one in the last photo actually detracts from the painting.

Thank you very much! I deserved it as I have been patiently waiting soon long 🙂

I completely agree about “such pompous, totally inappropriate frames”. What are they thinking???

Perhaps one of the considerations is this: now that I have bought such an expensive picture, it should now be put in an expensive-looking frame.

A likely explanation! 🙂

I like the irony in the fancy frames. To me they come from the world that surrounded the artists who were already somewhere else, if that makes sense. Basquiat was a force, really amazing artist. And do you really think that because, say, Basquiat painted what you would like to paint that you should stop? Kandinsky painted what I can never and would never paint, but a reproduction of his work hangs in my studio near Palden Lamo Through the eye in my heart I see that they and my work are the same. I’m sure no one else would see it, but I know. We just have different eyes, hands, lives, worlds.

No, of course I won’t stop painting – I’ve only gotten 20 cm smaller 🙂 But only temporarily.
Yes, it is always confusing how a work of art by a good painter affects us. Maybe it’s like falling in love with someone.

I think you’re right. It IS like falling in love with someone. I know when I saw Picasso’s linocuts, I fell in love. And Goethe…

Thanks for the excellent post. I was fortunate to see Basquiat’s work a few years ago in Toronto. Very powerful and moving.

Thank you! Yes indeed. I think artists feel even more impressed by his work. In addition to the admiration, one always asks oneself how he came to this conclusion.

I share your admiration for Basquiat. HIs work stops me in my tracks.

[…] Jean Michel Basquiat Exhibition in Vienna […]

Oh, I really liked Jean-Michel Basquiat’s works while at university! 😀
Thank you for the post! 🙂

Thank you very much! Glad you like his works too.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: