Brought to you by Spirit St Barts in collaboration with UNICEF Gala St Barts and Gallery 211 int. This exhibition proudly presents you one of a kind photos of Basquiat by Christopher Makos. Basquiat, aka King Pleasure, doesn’t need any introduction, he is best known for his primitive style and his collaboration with pop artist Andy Warhol. Often spotted besides Keith Haring and Andy Warhol, Basquiat would show up to Mr. Chow decked out in an Armani suit. He’d drink kir royale and socialize with the art-world elite. In his early 20's had gone from selling drawing for $50 in 1980's to selling canvases that were barely dried. As an article quoted, Basquiat canvases were “at a brisk pace—so brisk, some observers joked, that the paint was barely dry”. Basquiat said he worried he had become a “gallery mascot.” Not everyone knew what to make of the young Black man and his frenetic, rebellious paintings, but everyone wanted to be associated with him. Everyone still does.
Young and ambitious, Basquiat shot straight into the center of the New York art world when he was barely out of his teens, showing with some of the country’s most influential gallerists, haunting nightclubs with Andy Warhol, and producing a staggering quantity of
art work before dying of a heroin overdose, at the age of 27 in 1988.
‘It’s no accident that he’s holding Africa in the picture because in many ways, he felt like he was the token black artist’
Christopher Makos and Basquiat
Basquiat was a very interesting, soft-spoken, young African-American artist. The picture that I have of Basquiat holding the globe: it’s no accidet that he’s holding Africa in the picture because in many ways, he felt like he was the token black artist. He understood that
he was the black artist that everybody wanted but he wasn’t sure if they wanted him or his
I was so sad that he had gotten addicted to heroin. His flame was so strong that it almost had to burn itself out. I went to his studio to show him the pictures I had taken and that’s when the drug stuff was pretty intense. There was a plate of fried eggs that he had made but didn’t finish; money, hundred dollar bills just sitting on the table; it was a portrait of a young drug addict. It was a scene out of a movie, and that was close to the end.”
Christopher Makos is a contemporary photographer and artist known for his bold photojournalism and innovative ‘insider’ perspective. His photographs have been exhibited in galleries and museums such as the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, the Tate Modern in London, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the IVAM in Valencia (Spain) and the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid. His pictures have appeared in magazines and newspapers, including Paris Match and Wall Street Journal. He isthe author of several important books, like the volumes Warhol/Makos In Context (2007), Andy Warhol China 1982 (2007) and Christopher Makos Polaroids (2009). His iconic images continue to set record breaking prices at prestigious charity events such as the amfAR Gala Cannes, UNICEF’S Summer Gala in Porto Cervo, Sardinia, and Steven Tyler’s Janie’s Fund GRAMMY® Awards event to name a few.
Makos was also an important influence on Andy Warhol in the 1970s and 1980s and he documented the eclectic world surrounding the “Factory”, and the vibrant New York social scene of that era, becoming a prominent figure in the New York downtown art scene where he befriended and created raw, indelible portraits of the likes of Roy Lichtenstein, Salvador Dalí, Halston, Patti Smith, and Mick Jagger. With an incredible eye for emerging artists, Makos is responsible for introducing the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring to Warhol. Makos and his insightful recollections have been featured in scores of exhibitions, documentaries, and publications, including the recent critically acclaimed Netflix documentary “The Warhol Diaries” from producer Ryan Murphy.
Makos grew up in California and moved to Paris to study architecture as a young person. He traveled all through Europe and worked as an apprentice to the legendary Man Ray. In 1977, Makos released his book, WHITE TRASH, which became an overnight success as a raw, beautiful chronicle of the downtown NYC punk scene, interspersed with portraits of Uptown Boldface names. The release marked a turning point for his career as a photographic journalist.
Makos continuously documented the New York scene throughout the 1980’s, using his Interview Magazine to present up-and-coming stars such as Matt Dillon, Christian Slater, Robert Downey JR. and Tom Ford. Makos would regularly visit Madrid, where his portraits of Pedro Almodovar, Agatha Ruiz de la Prada, Bibi Andersen and Miguel Bose helped identify La Movida. Makos’ photographs have been featured in countless magazines and newspapers throughout the United States, Europe, China and Japan. His photographs have been published in Interview, Rolling Stone, House & Garden, Connoisseur, New York Magazine, Esquire, among many others. Christopher Makos is an influential figure in the New York art scene, where he continues to live and work today.
“His flame was so strong that it almost had to burn itself out” - Christopher Makos
This was a new era. Basquiat was a perfect match for Andy. He was on his own, he wasn’t part of the Factory, but he was very involved. Basquiat wasn’t a hanger-on type. He was very strong on his own. Andy rented Basquiat’s studio on the Lower East Side. He had bought that property and rented it to Basquiat. They didn’t hang out that much. It wasn’t a business deal but it was more like, “We could both get something out of this.” Andy would be associated with a new young artist and Basquiat would get the benefit of working with a major Pop artist like Warhol.
“The name of the place was ‘The Factory’ but there were four separate Factories. I was part of the last two Factories, from 1976-1986. The change happened after Valerie Solanas shot Andy Warhol (in 1968). After that, it became, for lack of a better word, more professional. Not anybody could come to the Factory anymore. You’d have to be vetted.
Nowadays Basquiat’s painting Defacement (The Death of Michael Stewart) became the centerpiece of a series of conversations about police brutality, black identity, and the Black Lives Matter movement. Basquiat’s contributions to the history of art and his explorations of multifaceted cultural phenomena––including music, the Black experience, pop culture, Black American sports figures, literature, and other sources are significant.
Basquiat first art show in St Barts
The story of Basquiat is brought to the Caribbean for the first time depicting the captivating spirit of the artist through the lens of renowned photographer Christopher Makos. Spirit St Barts has been launched by Claudia Carpentier and Maria Ries in 2021 bringing art to the island from international sources and introducing highly collectible and very exclusive works to a small number of collectors and visitors of the island. A niche of blue-chip artists is brought to the island to make any art collection more remarkable and valuable.
Directed and curated by Maria Ries and produced by Claudia Carpentier, Spirit St Barts offers the first exhibition of the story of the legendary American artist who defines American society and also international art history presenting never before seen photographs of the artist.