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Punching above their Weight

Updated: Jul 15, 2023

'I don't listen to what art critics say. I don't know anybody who needs a critic to find out what art is.' Jean-Michel Basquiat


It’s the hottest ticket in town, and I managed to get my hands on one as soon as it went on sale. Today I ventured further afield to the Bois de Boulogne in search of the Fondation Louis Vuitton. It’s a very different vibe to the Left Bank, a mini bit of countryside in Paris. The “Basquiat × Warhol. Painting four hands” is an important exhibition bringing together more than three hundred works and documents including eighty canvases jointly signed by the two artists. I booked an 11.30 slot and arrived early to join the queue at 11.15. Slots are sold for the hour or half past the hour, a fact that was lost on a surprising number of people. Standing in the queue was nearly as much fun as going inside. So many people arrived thinking their time slot would allow them to walk straight in, with one gentleman arguing with the stewards as he thought he could turn up when he wanted (an hour after his booked time) and the doors would ‘just open for him’. A lot of people were turned away.


I also learnt what 'Schnick-Schnack-Schnuck' is after hearing two children play it for a solid 15 minutes, calling the phrase at the top of their voices at the start of each game. Be careful if you Google it to check the spelling; it's also the title of an adult German film. In case you haven't guessed, it is rock, paper, scissors. .

Still, it meant there was plenty of time to admire the incredible Frank Gehry architecture that is the Fondation Louis Vuitton.



Walking inside was reminiscent of a visit to the Vatican I went on years ago. The long queues entered the extraordinary building quietly and with reverence. Having visited l'Église Saint-Sulpice de Paris the day before, I felt the same sense of quiet and calm in the atrium.


Fun fact. The ceiling of Saint Sulpice is as High as Notre Dame, and there are two show-stopping Delacroix paintings in the first Crypt on the right. Gehry had similar lofty proportions in mind when designing his building.. He envisaged 'an iceberg enveloped by glass sails' when he conceived the building and was inspired by the idea of a huge glasshouse, like the metal and glass structures popular in Paris in the early 19th Century.


And like the Vatican, two minutes into the visit, the cameras are out. A river of people flowed through each gallery- some stopping en route to see the work and learn more about the extraordinary collaboration, others moving as a homogenous mass from one room to the other, there to tick another attraction off the list. I realised quickly that if you sat on a bench in the centre of one of the halls, you would find a small window in time when a room emptied before it filled up again.


So if you can’t beat them, join them…



The scale and breadth of the works are hard to convey. The creative journey is subtle, and it was only partway through I started to notice how the artists' visual language and styles were slowly beginning to merge the longer they worked with each other, with Warhol returning to painting by hand and Basquiat experimenting with silk screen. Together the artists created some of their largest paintings. So big it's easier to show the video I took.



Towards the end, you feel they have become one artist with a new visual language. To explain their collaborations, I am going to quote Dieter Buchhart the exhibition curator. “It takes a great artist like Nick Rhodes ( Duran Duran) to exemplify and express how two of the greatest artists working together can create something totally new., absolutely exciting, perhaps even greater than could be created alone. In one interview, Rhodes said, ‘It's always strange to me that collaborations between some of the greatest artists don’t seem to be taken as seriously or don’t have the same value that pieces by individual artists have. That makes no sense, being a musician. Some musical collaborations are among the greatest songs ever made.’ “


So three hours later, I emerged back into the daylight to head back home. Today's step count, 19.106. I think it's time for something a bit different with visitors due for the next few days,


'Everything has it beauty, but not everyone sees it.' — Andy Warhol









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