On The Scene: 'The Collaboration' dives into Warhol and Basquiat's unexpected connection
The new Broadway play, "The Collaboration," takes audiences into the worlds of two of America's most famous artists...Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat, and dramatizes the unlikely bond forged between the two strikingly different individuals.
In the mid-1980s, Swiss art dealer Bruno Bischofberger arranged for the partnership in which Warhol and Basquiat created paintings together. The career of Warhol, a pop art icon famous for his silkscreens of celebrities including Elizabeth Taylor, Liza Minnelli and Marilyn Monroe and for his painting of Cambell's Soup cans, was waning. Basquiat, then in his 20s, was up and coming on the New York art scene.
"I think with Jean-Michel it was a very direct connection between his heart, mind and soul to his canvas," says actor Jeremy Pope, who portrays Basquiat. "I think you get to feel his life experience in real time from his canvas. So that has been one of the things that has been such a tool and a resource for me."
Warhol is played by Paul Bettany.
"It seems to me that the world was so very frightening to Andy Warhol that through some sort of desperate magic he managed to change the world into seeing him as a star," says Bettany.
"The Collaboration" is written by Anthony McCarten. The Academy Award nominee ("The Theory of Everything," "The Two Popes,") says he became fascinated with Warhol and Basquiat after visiting exhibits of their individual artwork on the same day.
Staged by the Manhattan Theatre Club and being performed at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, "The Collaboration" was previously performed in London. A variation of the story was recently made into a film also starring Bettany and Pope.
Warhol and Basquiat's partnership produced works over a period of a couple of years. Both of their lives ended soon after. Warhol died following gall bladder surgery in 1987 at the age of 58. The following year, at just 27 years of age, Basquiat died of a drug overdose. In 2017, Basquiat's 1982 "Untitled" painting sold for more than $110 million, the highest amount ever paid for a work by a U.S. artist.
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