Gagosian Digs into Basquiat’s. Larry Gagosian, the bigwig in the art world known for his extravagant pre-Oscars bashes in Los Angeles, is taking a detour this year. Instead of throwing his legendary party, he’s stepping back to where it all began. We’re talking about his humble beginnings—not as the art mogul he is today, but back when he was hustling, selling posters on Broxton Avenue in Westwood. And what’s the reason for this trip down memory lane? Well, Gagosian’s Los Angeles gallery is gearing up for something special.
Uncovering Basquiat’s West Coast Journey
In March, the gallery will roll out “Made on Market Street,” an exhibition shedding light on Jean-Michel Basquiat’s lesser-known days in sunny Los Angeles during the early 1980s. Now, hold up. Isn’t Basquiat the quintessential New Yorker? Born in Brooklyn, made famous by his graffiti art in Lower East Side Manhattan, and even laid to rest in Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery? Sure, that’s all true, but Gagosian and his crew are here to challenge the status quo.
Basquiat’s West Coast Adventure
Gagosian, reflecting on those early days, reminisces about meeting Basquiat in the basement studio of Annina Nosei’s gallery in SoHo. He wasn’t a big-shot dealer back then, just a kid from L.A. soaking in the excitement of New York City. And Basquiat, well, he caught Gagosian’s eye right away. Despite not being a household name at the time, Basquiat’s art spoke volumes to Gagosian and Nosei—they sensed something revolutionary in his work.
A Stroke of Luck
Gagosian shares a gem from his buddy David Geffen, the entertainment mogul with a knack for collecting art. Geffen once said, “To succeed, you keep your head down and hope you bump into a genius.” And for Gagosian, Basquiat was that genius. His energy, his talent—it was like nothing Gagosian had seen before. Basquiat’s paintings were a whole new breed, like a modern-day Cubism.
Bringing Basquiat to L.A.
So, what did Gagosian do next? He didn’t waste any time. Shortly after their meeting, he popped the question to Basquiat: “How about a show in L.A.?” And just like that, in the blink of an eye, Basquiat’s first exhibition in New York led to another one on the West Coast. Gagosian flung open the doors of his gallery on North Altamont Drive, showcasing Basquiat’s art to the sunny shores of L.A. That November, Gagosian even invited Basquiat to crash at his place—a swanky new pad on Market Street in Venice Beach, complete with its own gallery space and studio apartment.
Larry Gagosian’s journey from poster peddler to art magnate is a tale in itself. And in revisiting Basquiat’s overlooked days in Los Angeles, Gagosian isn’t just reminiscing about the past—he’s rewriting history. Who knew that beneath the palm trees and sun-kissed beaches, Basquiat’s art was quietly simmering, waiting for the world to take notice? Well, thanks to Gagosian and his upcoming exhibition, we’re about to find out. So, mark your calendars and get ready to dive into a slice of art history, served up fresh from the City of Angels.