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Rare Basquiat Drawings Being Shown at Upper East Side Gallery

 More than twenty pieces by artist Jean-Michel Basquiat are on display at Acquavella Galleries.
Rare Basquiat Drawings Being Shown at Upper East Side Gallery
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UPPER EAST SIDE — A new exhibit featuring artist Jean-Michel Basquiat will present some of the artist’s lesser-known works.

Acquavella Galleries on East 79th Street will host an exhibit of Basquiat’s drawings, including some of his earliest works. The exhibit runs from May 1 to June 13 and includes 22 drawings and two paintings, all from the collection of Herbert and Lenore Schorr.

The Schorrs were some of Basquiat’s earliest supporters. They began collecting his pieces in 1981, before the artist’s first solo New York exhibition. In addition to acquiring several paintings that are now recognized as some of Basquiat’s most important works, the Schorrs also sought out the artist’s drawings, something that set them apart from many early collectors according to the exhibit’s curator.

“The Schorrs astutely understood that working on paper was equally central to his practice as painting on canvas,” exhibit curator Fred Hoffman said in a statement. “Their collection demonstrates both the focus and ambition that the artist invested in the medium of drawing.”

Drawing was an essential part of Basquiat’s output. From 1980 to 1988, during his prime years, Basquiat created almost 1,000 drawings, according to the gallery. Like his paintings, many of his drawings challenge flawed power structures and fundamental failings in society such as racism and poverty.

Basquiat's career started in obscurity, then rose to meteoric heights before his death.

“We had so much confidence in him from the beginning and couldn’t understand why other people couldn’t see it,” Lenore Schorr said in a statment. “A wonderful exhibition that he did at Fun Gallery in 1983 didn’t receive a single review and we were the only ones to buy a painting.”

By the mid-80s Basquiat’s career had taken off and he was showing his painting at international galleries and museums. His career was cut short when he died in 1988 of a heroin overdose. He was 27 at the time.

In 2005, the Brooklyn Museum presented a retrospective of Basquiat’s work, which was co-curated by Hoffman.

The Acquavella exhibit marks the first time that works from the Schorrs collection will be on display. Many of the pieces have never before been seen by the public.