Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Widow Basquiat

Widow Basquiat by Jennifer Clement

Anyone who knows me well enough knows that I am inspired by a multitude of art forms (writing, fashion and art mostly). Jean-Michel Basquiat is an artist that I have been intrigued by for many years. I first came to know of him through my fascination with Andy Warhol (yet another artist of whom I am a massive fan). However, once I looked into Basquiat I became hooked on his work and just as importantly, his story.


Basquiat was an iconic artist of the 1980s whose life was drug and sex fuelled, in the midst of the chaotic New York party scene. I was naturally interested in the celebrity aspect of his life - his friendship with Warhol and even Madonna - and enjoyed a glimpse into that lifestyle.

The book centres around his love affair with Suzanne Mallouk - Widow Basquiat herself - who delivers a running commentary throughout the book. She was his muse, his lover and their complex and disturbing relationship is so interesting, it seems she is the key to understanding the complicated artist on a personal level.

The whole book is interpreted by Jennifer Clement, through Mallouk. The delivery of Basquiat's tragic story is raw, open and at times vulgar. I absolutely love that.

There is a jumbled kind of disconnect between each chapter and this is really reflective of the artist's journey. The memoir raises real, raw issues such as overdose, AIDS and STDs, and uncovers his unique, controversial views.


Basquiat died in 1988 aged 27 of a drug overdose. I'm sure you may have heard of the 27 club (a large number of famous creatives who tragically died at the age of 27 - those of which include Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse and Jean-Michel Basquiat amongst many others) This fascinates me and that alone is something to make me want to read a story such as this.

Widow Basquiat is poetic, it's strong, and it's fascinating.
I would definitely recommend this book.

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