The Portland Art Museum’s new exhibition, ‘Paige Powell: The Ride’, is all about the uncensored world of Basquiat and Warhol at play and work.
Still from ‘The Ride’, 2015, 3-channel colour digital projection; 18:42 min. Image courtesy of Paige Powell.
If you don’t live in or around Oregon – and let’s face it, you might not – then you’ll probably wish that you did when you hear about the latest exhibit at the Portland Art Museum: just imagine that your favourite New York, late-Factory artists were followed around with a video camera by one of their own, and you’re pretty much there.
Paige Powell, photojournalist, underground It-girl, and lover of Jean Michel Basquiat – you might remember she released some personal pictures last year of Basquiat reclining, smoking nude and generally oozing his very unique brand of cool – was associate editor of Interview magazine in the eighties and a very early adopter of camcorder technology. She was personally close not just with Basquiat but also icons like Andy Warhol and Keith Haring: people who defined New York’s art scene at that time, as well as literary players like Tama Janowitz (often referenced by the media as part of the “Brat Pack” that included postmodern heroes Bret Easton Ellis and Jay McInerney).
As you can imagine, Powell has an enviable archive of footage and pictures of some of the 20th century’s most influential cultural figures. Until recently, though, her collection was being stored in boxes, safely tucked away in New York. With the help of archivists, she’s finally unearthing these never-before-seen pieces and the Portland Art Museum is displaying them in an exhibition entitled ‘The Ride’.
It comprises a previously-unseen, three-channel video that features footage of Warhol and Haring, as well as more candid photos of Basquiat and Warhol’s entourage. Keen to emphasise the idea that Powell was, and remains, an artist in her own right, ‘The Ride’ also boasts an interactive instillation that recreates one of Powell’s 1984 exhibitions. It’s a wonderful opportunity to glimpse into probably the most exciting art-clique of recent times and essential viewing for any fan of Basquiat and Warhol – and in these art-on-Tumblr times, who isn’t?
Beluah Land (162 Avenue A) opening. January 15. 1984. Image courtesy of the artist.