Warhol/Basquiat; Ofili/Doig


In “The Greatest Bromances in Art History,” Rachel Lebowitz (Artsy) traces great friendships between male artists through the decades, including Salvador Dalí and Man Ray, Lucien Freud and Francis Bacon, Marcel Duchamp and Francis Picabia, Vincent van Gogh and Émile Bernard, Chris Ofili and Peter Doig, and Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat. I include the latter two pairs here. Rationale: Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Caribbean roots (Haitian father and Puerto Rican mother) and British painters Chris Ofili and Peter Doig lived in and painted about Trinidad.

Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat

Basquiat grew up idolizing Warhol, who was over 30 years his senior. Brought together by art dealer Bruno Bischofberger, the artists became friends and, in the 1980s, collaborated on paintings such as Untitled (1984–85). The piece features Basquiat’s cartoonish depiction of a vibrant-red human stomach alongside Warhol’s skull and crossbones, which recalls his silkscreen-and-paint “Skulls” series, begun in 1976.

Warhol and Basquiat’s relationship has been described as a symbiotic one: Basquiat relied on Warhol to both bolster his name and help him navigate his newfound celebrity; Warhol, in turn, capitalized on Basquiat’s youthful energy to revitalize his image as an art-world rebel.

Chris Ofili and Peter Doig

British painters Ofili and Doig met in art school and became fast friends. In 2000, Ofili traveled to Trinidad to participate in a painting workshop; he convinced the program to host Doig, too. Over the next several years, both artists returned to the island numerous times and eventually relocated permanently. Ofili and Doig each experienced the artistic rejuvenation that came from a complete change of scenery—as well as keen awareness of their outsider status on the Caribbean island.

Maintaining their close friendship over the years, Doig has grappled with how to avoid exoticizing images of the local population, while Ofili has had to navigate his works’ reception in a culture that attaches deeper meanings to images both local and foreign. While the artists share artistic preoccupations, they insist that their practices are not influenced by each other.


[Image, top: “Warhol and Basquiat Sitting, 1987,” by Tseng Kwong Chi, 1987; prints available for purchase at https://www.artsy.net/artwork/tseng-kwong-chi-warhol-and-basquiat-sitting-1987. Image, bottom: Peter Doig’s “Fisherman,” 2014; see https://www.artsy.net/artwork/peter-doig-fisherman-2.]

For full article, see https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-greatest-bromances-art-history

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