“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. My immediate instinct was to remove him from all the distractions and place him in front of a thin 4’ 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. It is tempting to second guess the decision I made that day at 57 Great Jones St, but I was interested in a simple portrait of a complicated genius. I was a young artist myself and I was drawn to the immediacy of this painter’s presence. I believed in that moment that less was more and I knew no better solution. During that short period of time, less than one hour, I shot 79 frames. While each of my photographs are similar in structure, from frame to frame Basquiat’s intensity, his intelligence, anger, curiosity, gaze, and hands and body language mutated and shifted.
Those faceted revelations moved me to share this work for the first time. His luminous presence and indelible talent shines through the simplicity of the setting. I don’t regret my decision.”
The book Basquiat – A Portrait is available exclusively through Vero for £200 at: https:/get.vero.co/basquiatxvero
Peter Fetterman Gallery
2525 Michigan Ave, #A1
Santa Monica, CA 90404