As the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat continues to grow in prominence, the ongoing commodification of his art and images are once again at the center of controversy. Over the years, Basquiat’s estate has fought with galleries, art dealers, and even friends and ex-girlfriends of the late artist.
Now, nude photos are at the center the latest controversy over his image.
Last year, Paige Powell, ex-girlfriend of Basquiat, held an exhibition at Suzanne Geiss Company in New York City. The show featured nude images that she had taken of him. The most famous photograph shows Basquiat reclining on a mattress.
Several online magazines an blogs, including ANIMAL New York, ran the images, that according to Powell, Basquiat “would have loved.” But, Basquiat Estate attorney James P. Cinque doesn’t appear to agree with her.
Cinque requested that the website take them images down immediately as “they disparage Mr. Basquiat and are prurient in nature,” according to a an e-mail sent to the site, and relayed by Ratter.
In the meantime, the images are still up at ANIMAL, and it doesn’t appear that any other websites have received this letter. But, debate rages on. Should these photos be taken down? Is this the way to protect an artist’s legacy?