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Boom for Real

Photo of Basquiat standing by graffiti

Discover the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat, the pioneering prodigy of the 1980s downtown New York art scene, through our series of long reads, videos and playlists.

photo of jennifer stein and barbican curator lotte johnson

Jennifer Stein in Basquiat Boom for Real


We caught up with artist Jennifer Stein to learn more about how a chance meeting with the then-unknown graffiti artist, 'SAMO' aka Jean-Michel Basquiat, at a New York loft party led to a vibrant collaboration on a collection of postcards capturing the energy and creativity of their youth.

Photo of Jean Michel Basquiat dancing in the Mudd Club

Listen: Basquiat and Hip Hop

Basquiat’s early graffiti experiments as SAMO© intertwined with the burgeoning hip hop, rap and graffiti scenes of the late 1970s and 1980s. Discover the sound of the era.

Man looking at Basquiat painting

Basquiat and Friends

Basquiat was a regular on New York’s downtown club scene. The faces he met often played a prominent role on his canvas - we explore some of the famous faces featured in the Basquiat: Boom for Real exhibition. 

Photo of Jean Michel Basquiat dancing in the Mudd Club
Long read

Basquiat and Downtown

Tim Lawrence remembers the cultural renaissance that was downtown New York's music scene in the late 1970s and early 1980s. From SoHo warehouses to Mudd Clubb, we look at how Basquiat's passion for New York's music scene influenced his artistic style

Basquiat bookshelves

Basquiat and Books

Basquiat took inspiration from a dizzying array of source material - how many literary references can you spot?

Basquiat dancing

On Basquiat's Playlist

From Prince to David Byrne to Donna Summer and Bach, we listen to the music that might have been on Basquiat's playlist

Basquiat images

Basquiat: Boom For Real - A 360 Exhibition Tour

Join Barbican curator Eleanor Nairne and Gus Casely-Hayford as they look around the 'Encyclopedia' room in our Basquiat: Boom For Real exhibition and discuss the wide range of influences Jean Michel Basquiat brought into his paintings.

Man playing xylophone

Barbican Sessions: Black Top

Black Top, the duo of multi-instrumentalist Orphy Robinson and pianist Pat Thomas, perform a live concert after hours in our 'Basquiat: Boom for Real' exhibition.