Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring at the opening reception for Julian Schnabel at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1987 (Photo: © George Hirose)

This exhibition brings together the artworks by the late Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, with the National Gallery of Victoria saying they are paired as two of the greatest artists of the late twentieth century. The exhibition rings true to this testimony and with the exhibiting of more than 200 artworks in one place, this is a world-first hosted exclusively in Melbourne.

The exhibition holds all the landmarks of their true artistic soul and individual approach. The detail in the curating of this world premiere is superb. This is a thematic exhibit that works well. With 12 themes featuring 'Early Works', ‘Portrait/Self Portrait’, ‘Performance and Dance’ to ‘Drawings and Early Exhibitions’, the thematic in the detail to curating is explicit. Their artworks can complement or contrast each other while their raw and unadulterated presence continue well into the exhibition. From the socio-political context of the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat to the subway Graff by Keith Haring we see the beginning of the art being taken into the street and into different contexts that in today are taken as the norm.

Keith Haring, 'Untitled', 1985, acrylic on canvas, (228.6 x 599.4 cm)

Dr. Dieter Buchhart curator of the exhibition explains that “while Basquiat anticipated today’s ‘always-on’ culture of communication and contemporary knowledge spaces, Haring foreshadowed emojis with his image-word alphabet,” continued Buchhart. “This universal system of communication remains a positive, humanistic meme in the collective struggle against ignorance, fear and silence.”

This exhibition also includes one other artist, Maripol. Polaroids from the Underground is an ongoing project that developed throughout Maripol’s days in New York and include Maripol's house-mate Jean-Michel Basquiat. Maripol's Polaroids are a stand out in this exhibition with context given to the place and surrounds of New York at the time. Featuring Polaroids of Madonna, Basquiat and many others, these images detail their social context of the day.

Jean-Michel Basquiat, 'Ishtar', 1983, synthetic polymer paint, wax crayon and photocopy collage on canvas and wood (182.9 x 352.0cm)

This exhibition showcases Melbourne in its best light, capturing the artworks that ring true to Melbourne artists as a sister city of New York. Melbourne has been growing fast as gentrification of the city marks changes in living with increasing rents and new apartments being developed, it is great to see the underground art scene being appreciated and recognised here in Melbourne just as in New York’s earlier days.

The National Gallery of Victoria continues this exhibition Crossing Lines with a number of interactive all-ages programs throughout the summer. This includes an exhibition of Basquiat's sold postcards featuring his artwork on the streets of New York for $1. In this program you can use collage, text and image to create a postcard to take home or donate to the postcard exchange where you can swap your postcard with another!

Be sure to book yourself and a friend for Crossing Lines at the NGV International! To see the full selection of program events, click here.


Dates: 1 December 2019 - 13 April 2020

Location: NGV International - 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

Cost: Admission fees apply. (Non-members): Adult: $30, Concession: $25, Child: $10. For more details on prices, see the website.

Times: 10am - 5pm daily

NGV Website