400 Photos of Warhol and Basquiat

Basquiat and Warhol outside the Mary Boone Gallery on West Broadway, May 3, 1984. © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

32 years after Andy Warhol’s death, The Andy Warhol Foundation and Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Estate have teamed up to create a book detailing the friendship between Warhol and Basquiat, as told through Warhol’s photography. The book, “Warhol on Basquiat: The Iconic Relationship Told in Andy Warhol’s Words and Pictures” includes photos that Warhol took of Basquiat, along with Warhol’s diary entries that further catalog their relationship.

Basquiat left home at 17, living on the streets and honing his graffiti skills, which piqued Warhol’s interest in the young artist. In one diary entry, Warhol recalls his first interactions with Basquiat: “He’s the kid who used the name ‘Samo’ when he used to sit on the sidewalk in Greenwich Village and paint T-shirts, and I’d give him $10.” Warhol had already risen to a level of a celebrity at the time, and he decided to take Basquiat under his wing.

The pair became particularly close during this period, both as friends and collaborators, using each other to inspire their art. Throughout the time, Warhol took around 150,000 photos, only few of which he printed himself. He was known to hide behind the camera, often focusing on relationships through the lens as a mirror for his work. In 2014, The Andy Warhol Foundation gave all of the negatives in their collection to Stanford University, where they were then scanned and uploaded for public access.

The publicity of both the photos and the book itself is a foreign concept for The Andy Warhol Foundation, as they tend to be more invested in Warhol’s assets rather than creating a platform for the public, especially one so intimate. The photos and diary entries explore the highs and lows of the artists’ lives; in one entry, Warhol writes: “Jean-Michel came by and said he was depressed and was going to kill himself and I laughed and said it was just because he hadn’t slept for four days.” Their personal lives never seemed to improve after that entry, despite their fame. Warhol died in 1987 of complications from gallbladder surgery, and a year later, at 27, Basquiat passed from a heroin overdose. However, despite the often depressing personal lives of the artists, “Warhol on Basquiat” is an unadulterated “voyeuristic glimpse” of their relationship and a celebration of their work.

The release of “Warhol on Basquiat” is coupled with the debut of the album Untitled by Vinyl Factory, Lonely Table and Anja Ngozi. The album is a compilation of seven songs by eighteen artists, all inspired by the work of Basquiat. 2019 is a year of great celebration of Warhol and Basquiat, with successful exhibits across the world including shows for SFMOMA and the 25th anniversary of The Warhol Museum, and the boost will hopefully garner attention from new fans and previous lovers of their work.

Warhol and Basquiat painting Problems at Warhol’s studio at 860 Broadway, March 27, 1984. © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc