Basquiat’s Defacement: The Untold Story
Text by Chaédria LaBouvier, Nancy Spector, J. Faith Almiron, Greg Tate, Luc Sante, Carlo McCormick, Jeffrey Deitch, Kenny Scharf, Fred Braithwaite, Michelle Shocked, et al
Guggenheim Museum, 2019
6 1⁄2 × 9 1⁄2 inches
Jean-Michel Basquiat painted Defacement (The Death of Michael Stewart) on the wall of Keith Haring’s studio in 1983 to commemorate the death of a young black artist who died from injuries sustained while in police custody after being arrested for allegedly tagging a New York City subway station. Defacement is the starting point for the present volume, which focuses on Basquiat’s response to anti-black racism and police brutality. Basquiat’s “Defacement”: The Untold Story explores this chapter in the artist’s career through both the lens of his identity and the Lower East Side as a nexus of activism in the early 1980s, an era marked by the rise of the art market, the AIDS crisis and ongoing racial tensions in the city.