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Andy Warhol & Jean-Michel Basquiat

Untitled (Zenith 1/2)

1984

Harnessing our differences

When Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat met in 1983, they had nothing in common. Warhol, of Slovak origin, is 55 years old. An accomplished artist, he rubs shoulders with the powerful and enjoys planetary fame. Basquiat, half Haitian half Puerto Rican, is 23 years old and has just arrived on the New York scene. Rebellious and marginal, he comes from the streets and graffiti. And while Warhol resorts to mechanical means of reproducing images, Basquiat on the contrary seeks the energy and vivacity of gesture, instinctive and wild.

 

Despite their differences, they become friends. Warhol

gives Basquiat advice and opens his network to him. Better: they co-sign works where the violence of the gesture of one confronts the pop aesthetic of the other, and exhibit these paintings on an equal footing. Why? Because everyone has a lot to gain. Warhol, who carries around the label of already dusty pop art, seeks renewal, youth and freshness. Basquiat, meanwhile, needs the experience of his elder, his vision and his intelligence. Their stroke of genius is to have been able to transform their difference into complementarity.

What we can take away:

The difference – cultural, generational or otherwise – is often perceived as an obstacle to the relationship and therefore to collaboration. However, with a little curiosity and humility, we can often make it a source of complementarity. It then turns out to be a tremendous source of creativity.

Related theme: Creativity
Related topic: Cooperation
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