Brooklyn Museum celebrates Basquiat’s graffiti painting, artwork

Jean-Michel Basquiat’s painting “Untitled” was sold for $110.5 million in 2017.

A painting that costs more than a Boeing 737 is on view in Brooklyn — the first stop on its world tour.

“Untitled” by the late graffiti artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, which was sold at auction for $110.5 million to collector Yusaku Maezawa in 2017, is getting a spotlight at the Brooklyn Museum through March 11.

The unearthly head surrounded by bold strokes of color will be the single star of “One Basquiat” and will be accompanied by programming about the artist, who grew up in Brooklyn.

Maezawa said he purposely sought out the Brooklyn Museum for its world tour, given the artist’s background.

“I am thrilled to be sending Basquiat’s masterpiece home to Brooklyn,” he said in a statement. “It is my hope that through the exhibition and extensive programming accompanying it, the young people of the borough will be inspired by their local hero, just as he has inspired so many of us around the world.”

The work, which is like other Basquiat paintings because it is skeletal and cartoon-like, was created in 1981 and was his second painting of a sizable head but it stands out because of its ferocity, according to the museum.

Basquiat became known as SAMO© when he spray painted sayings on walls in Lower Manhattan, leading up to his first appearance at the Times Square Show in 1980. The Brooklyn Heights City-As-School alum became one of the youngest artists to ever take part in the Whitney Biennial in 1982 and was included in the reopening exhibition at the newly expanded Museum of Modern Art in 1984 before he died in 1988 at 27, the museum says.

Maezawa purchased “Untitled” at a Sotheby’s auction in 2017 for the highest price anyone has paid at an auction for a work by an American artist and for any artwork created after 1980, according to Sotheby’s. The painting will eventually be housed in a museum in Chiba, Japan — Maezawa’s hometown.

First up, on Feb. 3, there will be a free museum-wide celebration celebrating Black History Month with music, storytelling, dance, film and a talk about “One Basquiat” with curator Eugenie Tsai.

Contemporary artists will speak on his work and how he’s inspired them during a conversation on Feb. 15 about his legacy, including Cey Adams, the creative director of Def Jam, photographer Maripol and more.

Later, on March 8, “Basquiat,” a film about the artist’s life, will be screened along with live theatrical performances from Little Cinema.

To get a glimpse of the painting, admission to the gallery (at 200 Eastern Parkway) is $16. Make sure to check out the Brooklyn Museum’s programming online.

Correction: A previous version of this story should have named Little Cinema as the company putting on the live theatrical performances.

Shaye Weaver