In June 1984, photographer Richard Corman was commissioned to take the portrait of a young artist by the name of Jean-Michel Basquiat in his New York City studio.
“When I walked into the artist’s loft I was 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. My initial instinct was to remove him from all the distractions and place him in front of a thin four foot wall of grey seamless paper. I wanted to see behind his eyes and allow him to tell the most elemental part of his story – the human spirit behind the art.”
Twenty-five years later, writes Corman in the introduction to his new book, Basquiat ‘A Portrait’: “I don’t regret my decision.”
“From frame to frame Basquiat’s intensity, his intelligence, anger, curiosity, gaze, and hands and body language mutated and shifted.”
Corman took a total of 79 photographs that day in Basquiat’s studio, over the course of about an hour. And it is the timeless intensity of the painter’s presence – transforming with each frame – that has inspired Corman to share the full portfolio for the first time.
The result is a volume encompassing seven contact sheets and 12 large-format images of the iconic artist, who passed away four years later in 1988.
“[Basquiat’s] luminous presence and indelible talent shines through the simplicity of the setting.”
Only 500 copies have been made of the limited edition publication – with an interior portfolio that unfolds to almost four metres. Each copy has been signed and numbered by Corman, and was printed by photographer Richard Avedon’s master printer Ruedi Hofmann.
Basquiat ‘A Portrait’ is available exclusively on Vero from April 24, 2019.