Scribbles, Symbols, & Sounds: Seeing Loud, Basquiat and Music

“Art is how we decorate space; Music is how we decorate time.”

– Jean Michel Basquiat

Skulls, masks, and above all, the trademark crown. This is the iconography of one of the most famous artists of the 20th century. Jean-Michel Basquiat was a self-taught painter who rocked the 1980’s New York art scene. Evidently inspired by graffiti and street art, he turned to studio practice and became forever recognizable for his enigmatic pieces. 

However, the Seeing Loud exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Art takes you beyond the infamous scribbles, symbols and signs. Broken up into seven sections, his artistic career is pieced together through drawings, paintings, performances, and music

In collaboration with Musée de la musique at the Philharmonie de Paris, the exhibit shines light on Basquiat’s connection to music: the music he created, the artists that inspired him, the scenes with which he was involved, and the genres he was intimate with. The show explores no-wave, hip-hip, jazz and the music of the black atlantic masterfully. 

In a single space you’ll observe paintings, read notebooks, watch rare film footage, and listen to sound clips. If all of this wasn’t enough, the exhibit features another immersive element; A tailor-made augmented reality app. Designed and developed by the Montreal studio Dpt., the app features interactive content that updates as you walk through each room. Download the app and grab your headphones to discover his musical influences, the meaning behind his works, and immerse yourself in the New York art scene of the 1970s and 80s.

This exhibit is an opportunity to delve into the lesser-known aspects of Basquiat’s brilliance. Experience a transformative multidisciplinary space devoted to the role music played in his work. Seeing Loud: Basquiat and Music is on until February 19, 2023. 

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Written by Valerie Shoif