Item #2009 Vintage Silver Gelatin Photograph of Jean-Michel Basquiat. JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT, RICHARD CORMAN.
Vintage Silver Gelatin Photograph of Jean-Michel Basquiat
Vintage Silver Gelatin Photograph of Jean-Michel Basquiat

Vintage Silver Gelatin Photograph of Jean-Michel Basquiat


Trained under Richard Avedon, the photographer Richard Corman has been one of the most celebrated portrait photographers of the last thirty years. Rolling Stone refers to his photographs as “iconic” and documentarian Ken Burns says Corman’s versatile body of work is an “artistic vision dedicated to the highest aspirations of human endeavor... the photographs record in big moments and small, among the famous and ordinary, the gifted and challenged, larger truths relevant to all of us.”

Corman’s 1984 photo session with the 23-year old Jean-Michel Basquiat at Basquiat’s Great Jones St. studio produced wonderfully evocative images of the now legendary artist. As Corman explains:

“In 1984, I was asked to photograph Jean Michel Basquiat for L’Uomo Vogue. When I walked into the artist’s loft I was immediately engulfed by a wave of creative confusion. The room was a swirl of people, paint, canvas, color, and smoke. Off in the corner was Basquiat, submerged and almost invisible.

“I tried to be as prepared as possible for my shoot, but until I had walked into his studio, I was really entering the unknown. His space was packed with people — Jean-Michel attracted people for all kinds of reasons. He was charismatic, beautiful, a bit haunting and a genius in his own right. There was just a wonderfully crazy energy of smoke and people and music and painting. It was messy and cool in the best way. I decided to kind of isolate him in the photos from the chaos. For me, that’s what makes these pictures so interesting — the focus is on him, instead of the mad energy surrounding him.

“All I had with me was a twin lens Rolleiflex camera, one strobe, and a 4-foot-wide grey seamless paper. I hung it up, had him stand in front of it, and began taking pictures. I would say he was comfortable, uncomfortable, angry, curious, and intense. He just created his own space and energy, and I followed it... His hands, eyes, and body language were so expressive, and he revealed so much through his luminous presence.

“For me, as a young photographer, and even 30 years later, I’m always looking to find someone’s story behind their eyes, and in his own way, Jean-Michel shared that with me. It was kind of magical, even though I didn’t know what I had at the time. I didn’t know who I was photographing, other than someone with a unique soul and spirit. I felt how multi-layered he was. His presence was quiet yet mesmerizing.”

The vintage photographs from this photoshoot are exceedingly scarce. Corman printed “a few” of his favorites for his portfolio at the time, including three of this image. Signed, dated, and numbered ("1/3") by Corman on the verso.

New York: 1984. Size: Image = 16x16 inches; framed 23x25 inches. In stunning archival, hand-painted frame with museum plexi-glass. Fine condition.

Price: $8,500 .

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