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Writing the Future: Basquiat and the Hip-Hop Generation

How hip-hop culture and graffiti electrified the art of Jean-Michel Basquiat and his contemporaries in 1980s New York.

In the early 1980s, art and writing labeled as graffiti began to transition from New York City walls and subway trains onto canvas and into art galleries. Young artists who freely sampled from their urban experiences and their largely Black, Latinx and immigrant histories infused the downtown art scene with expressionist, pop and graffiti-inspired compositions.

Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960–88) became the galvanizing, iconic frontrunner of this transformational and insurgent movement in contemporary American art, which resulted in an unprecedented fusion of creative energies that defied longstanding racial divisions. Writing the Future features Basquiat’s works in painting, sculpture, drawing, video, music and fashion, alongside works by his contemporaries—and sometimes collaborators—A-One, ERO, Fab 5 Freddy, Futura, Keith Haring, Kool Koor, LA2, Lady Pink, Lee Quiñones, Rammellzee and Toxic. Throughout the 1980s, these artists fueled new directions in fine art, design and music, reshaping the predominantly white art world and driving the now-global popularity of hip-hop culture. Hardcover, 240 pages.

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