Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol attend Gifts For The City Of New York Benefit on November 7, 1984 at Area Nightclub in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

In the background of Beyoncé and Jay Z‘s About Love, you can easily identify the painting lining their wall as a quintessential work by Jean-Michel Basquiat, ‘Equal Pi.’ With expressive lines, freeform typography, bold colors and the coveted crown motif, there’s no mistaking the individual hand of Basquiat. But while the About Love video was an important moment in showcasing the deceased artist, it looks like 2022 will be full of Basquiat-centered content.

About Love
Beyoncė and Jay-Z pose with a Jean-Paul Basquiat for Tiffany & Co. “About Love” campaign

Directed by Julius Onah, who has previously worked with the likes of Spike Lee and J.J. Abrams, Samo Lives, a biopic about the life and work of Basquiat, is in the works for this year. The title, Samo Lives, pays homage to the mantle that Basquiat used as a graffiti artist on the streets of New York City.

“Simply put, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s work and life has been an absolute inspiration. When I began to learn about him at the age of 14 it was incredible to discover someone who boldly forged his own path into a world where most who didn’t fit the expected profile of a fine artist had been unable to (i.e. white and male).” Onah said in a director’s statement on the website for Samo Lives. “Though I could not yet fully appreciate the enormity of what Jean-Michel’s achievements meant, I could certainly feel there was something so groundbreaking and unique about them.”

Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960 – 1988), circa 1985. (Photo by Rose Hartman/Getty Images)

But of course, all art is derivative, and Samo Lives is no exception. Onah goes on to talk about the importance of the 1996 Basquiat biopic, starring Jeffrey Wright as Jean-Michel and David Bowie as Andy Warhol, in his education about the artist and his work.

“The older I got and the more I learned about Jean-Michel, the more I began to feel his story hadn’t fully been told in cinema.” Onah said. “Never have we seen the full spectrum of Basquiat’s incredible life as a Black artist and a child of the immigrant African diaspora.”

David Bowie, portraying Andy Warhol, performs a scene with Jeffrey Wright, portraying Jean-Michel Basquiat, in the 1996 motion picture Basquiat, directed by artist Julian Schnabel. (Photo by Mitchell Gerber/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)

While Samo Lives is a monumental moment for the Basquiat universe and for the art world at-large, it is only a portion of what makes 2022 a year seeking to have a Basquiat revival. A new exhibition, titled King Pleasure, is set to hit the New York City gallery scene when it opens on April 9, 2022 at the Starrett-Lehigh Building in Chelsea.

“Organized and curated by the family of Jean-Michel Basquiat, this exhibition of over 200 never-before-seen and rarely shown paintings, drawings, multimedia presentations, ephemera, and artifacts tell the story of Jean-Michel from an intimate perspective,” a statement on the King Pleasure website reads. “Intertwining his artistic endeavors with his personal life, influences, and the times in which he lived.”

Fred Brathwaite (Fab 5 Freddy) and Jean Michel Basquiat at Anita Sarko’s Voodoo Party at the Palladium. Friday, June 13, 1986. (Photo by Patrick McMullan/Getty Images)

On top of King Pleasure and Samo Lives, there is a stage adaptation in the works following the relationship between pop artist Andy Warhol and Basquiat, in particular the story of a hyped exhibition starring the two artists that ultimately was snubbed by reviews. The play, titled The Collaboration, is set to open at the Young Vic theatre in London in February of this year.

The Collaboration, staged by the Young Vic’s artistic director, Kwame Kwei-Armah, with Paul Bettany  playing Andy Warhol and Jeremy Pope as Basquiat.

The play “invites us behind the iconography and fame, and inside the intimate friendship between two artists, to lean in closely and challenge our preconceptions” Kwei-Armah said in an interview.

thoughts?