KINDERHOOK—“Basquiat x Warhol” opened Saturday, June 1 at The School with a reception from 3 to 7 p.m. The crux of the exhibition lies in the eight collaborative paintings, executed in 1984 and 1985 by the two artists, on display in The School’s main exhibition space.
The collaboration consisted of Andy Warhol taking the first pass at the work and Jean-Michel Basquiat finishing it. The works were generally panned when they were shown in the 1980s, with accusations that Warhol was “manipulative” and Basquiat a “too-willing accessory” (New York Times). The relationship, artistic and personal, apparently dwindled after that, until Warhol’s death in 1987 and Basquiat’s death in 1988.
Today, an exuberant Jack Shainman, proprietor of The School, says he is proud to present the works, as a study that mines the creative genius of both artists. “We’re looking at the collaborative paintings 30 years later with fresh eyes,” he said Tuesday. “They’re remarkable.”
In addition, the show features individual works by both artists, including Warhol’s “The Last Supper (Camel/57) and large-scale oil and acrylic paintings by Basquiat. Lesser-known works, such as Basquiat’s anatomy prints and Warhol’s torso line drawings, along with stitched photographs and Polaroids, hang in classroom exhibition spaces.
In other rooms Warhol films are projected and “Basquiat: Rage to Riches,” part of the PBS American Masters series, is on a continuous loop. “It’s an amazing documentary,” Shainman said of the latter, “with so much information about Basquiat’s work.
Works in the show are on loan from collectors and private dealers. Shainman does not own any of them, though he would like to, he said.
Some of the works are for sale, and Shainman said he was confident this could be done from Kinderhook. “We like walk-ins, people who come in to see the shows,” he said, “but this is also [for] a wider market.”
Shainman, who declined to give his age (“say I’m young”) grew up in Williamstown, MA. His father was a music professor at Williams College and a co-founder of the Williamstown Theatre Festival. Jack Shainman played piccolo, flute and violin as a youth, and also hung out at the Clark Art Institute. His other favorite pastime was horseback riding; while barely a teenager, he bought an old racehorse.
After graduating from American University in Washington, D.C., Shainman started in the gallery business. (He had tried sculpture, but found that he liked others’ work more.) He and a partner, French-Canadian artist Claude Simard, opened the first Jack Shainman Gallery in D.C. in the mid-1980s, and quickly realized they needed to be in New York City.
They opened a gallery in the East Village, moved it to SoHo and then to Chelsea. Shainman now owns two galleries there, on 20th Street and 24th Street, in addition to The School. Simard died in 2014.
During these years, the Jack Shainman Gallery developed a reputation for international artists, including those from the Middle East and from Africa, such as El Anatsui, a Ghanaian who received the 2015 Venice Biennale Golden Lion for lifetime achievement. Prices for Anatsui’s works, once set at about $45,000, have leapt to $1.1 million for equivalent pieces and $3.5 million for larger sculptures.
Shainman’s gallery is also known for U.S. artists such as Kerry James Marshall, Carrie Mae Weems and Nick Cave. In 20016 the Wall Street Journal called Shainman’s artists “outspokenly political,” but this week Shainman said simply, “I like changing things up.”
In 1999, Shainman found himself yearning to ride horses again. He bought a farm in Stuyvesant and went on the jumper circuit, where he has won dozens of ribbons.
He also discovered the empty former Martin Van Buren Elementary School on Route 9, in which he first thought to store art. He decided the art should be seen, however, and renovated the school as a 30,000-square-foot exhibition space. It opened in 2014.
In some ways, Shainman said Tuesday, The School is an extension of his New York City galleries, but because of its scale of space, it gives him the opportunity to show larger works. (The New York galleries have 3500 square feet and 1800 square feet of exhibition space.)
“Having this space allows for so much more freedom,” he said, “and it’s exciting for me to do the unexpected. I like the odd juxtapositions in these two American contemporary masters.”
The odd juxtapositions remain on view through September 7. The School is open Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. jackshainman.com