Widow Basquiat: A Love Story by Jennifer Clement, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Widow Basquiat: A Love Story

Widow Basquiat: A Love Story

5.0 3
by Jennifer Clement
     
 

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The beautifully written, deeply affecting story of Jean-Michel Basquiat's partner, her past, and their life together

New York City in the 1980s was a mesmerizing, wild place. A hotbed for hip hop, underground culture, and unmatched creative energy, it spawned some of the most significant art of the 20th century. It was where Jean-Michel Basquiat

Overview

The beautifully written, deeply affecting story of Jean-Michel Basquiat's partner, her past, and their life together

New York City in the 1980s was a mesmerizing, wild place. A hotbed for hip hop, underground culture, and unmatched creative energy, it spawned some of the most significant art of the 20th century. It was where Jean-Michel Basquiat became an avant-garde street artist and painter, swiftly achieving worldwide fame. During the years before his death at the age of 27, he shared his life with his lover and muse, Suzanne Mallouk.

A runaway from an unhappy home in Canada, Suzanne first met Jean-Michel in a bar on the Lower East Side in 1980. Thus began a tumultuous and passionate relationship that deeply influenced one of the most exceptional artists of our time.

In emotionally resonant prose, award-winning author Jennifer Clement tells the story of the passion that swept Suzanne and Jean-Michel into a short-lived, unforgettable affair. A poetic interpretation like no other, Widow Basquiat is an expression of the unrelenting power of addiction, obsession and love.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 10/06/2014
Clement (Prayers for the Stolen) creates a stunningly lyrical portrait of Suzanne Mallouk, the longtime girlfriend of painter Jean-Michel Basquiat, that is original, insightful, and engrossing. Narrating Suzanne’s childhood in Canada and her troubled relationship with the avant-garde street artist up until his death, the brief passages alternate between Clement’s poetic voice and Mallouk’s plainspoken accounts. The author, who was a close friend of both Mallouk and Basquiat, eventually emerges as a secondary character in the narrative—a confidante to Mallouk. Clement crafts her story with intimacy but leaves it free of sentimentality or moralizing. When Basquiat died, Clement writes, “Suzanne covers her mouth with her hands... There are no teeth inside her words.” At another time, Mallouk “was able to sleep for seven days and her body fell beneath her when she tried to walk.” The book benefits from this favoring of poetic truth over realism. While filled with pop culture anecdotes art fans might seek—Andy Warhol and Rene Ricard both make appearances, for instance—Clement’s account is an honest love story above all else. Agent: Claudia Ballard, William Morris Endeavor. (Nov.)
From the Publisher
An NPR Best Book of the Year Selection

“Stunningly lyrical . . . Original, insightful, and engrossing. . . . While filled with pop culture anecdotes art fans might seek—Andy Warhol and Rene Ricard both make appearances, for instance—Clement’s account is an honest love story above all else.”—Publishers Weekly

“Sublime, poetic…[Clement] chronicles her close friend Suzanne Mallouk’s love affair with Basquiat in elegant, spare, riveting prose…A powerful female coming of age story…A harrowing, beautifully told love story about two seekers colliding in a pivotal moment in history, and setting everything, including themselves, on fire.”—Rebecca Walker for NPR

"Magical…. Widow Basquiat conjures real characters, a real time and real place.  It’s not theory – it’s representation. … The life of Basquiat … is a joyous lightning bolt when it is described in true detail, as it is in Clement’s extraordinary as-told-to poem."—Glenn O’Brien, Artforum

"Provocative...With short, episodic chapters, Clement (Prayers for the Stolen, 2014, etc.) delivers real insight into the life of the brilliant artist as well as the glittering—but ultimately chaotic—world that consumed him...Disturbing and poetic."—Kirkus

"A beautifully evocative, poetic memoir ... Basquiat was aware of the criteria with which posterity would judge him. Widow Basquiat should be part of those criteria." -The Herald 
 
"An engrossing narrative... Clement offers far more clues to the cryptic symbols which litter his [Basquiat’s] paintings than any art critic could." -The Times
 
"A brilliant account of the relationship between Basquiat and his muse and lover ... a compelling book that leaves a giant sized lump in the throat ... Clement hypnotises us with a vivid portrait of Basquiat, powerfully evoking his inventiveness as an artist." -Independent on Sunday

Kirkus Reviews
2014-09-10
A provocative account of the passionate but stormy relationship between a Canadian runaway named Suzanne Mallouk and acclaimed New York artist Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988).In 1980, Mallouk left a dysfunctional home in Canada for New York. With its bold and brashly inventive art scene, the city seemed the perfect place for a girl who wore paper dresses, hid heroin in her beehive hairdo and believed that she "had seen God" in Iggy Pop. Not long after she arrived, she met Basquiat at a dive bar on the Lower East Side. Basquiat immediately moved into Mallouk's apartment, where he spent his days drawing, masturbating or snorting cocaine. At night, he would often go alone to clubs to pick up boys or girls and disappear with them for days at a time. Despite the unfaithfulness and his drug habit—which Mallouk shared for a time—she still supported the painter, loving him even after he infected her with the pelvic inflammatory disease that would leave her infertile. Basquiat became her addiction. When New York galleries and hipsters like Debbie Harry and Andy Warhol began to discover Basquiat's "jazz on canvas" paintings, Basquiat would spend his wealth indiscriminately, buying Armani suits only to ruin them with paint and renting limousines so he could throw $100 bills to bums in the street. Fame only made him even more erratic. Mallouk held on, fighting for him with other women, including, most famously, Madonna. Yet in the end, her love proved no match for Basquiat's addiction to heroin. Not only would the drug destroy their relationship, but also the painter himself. With short, episodic chapters, Clement (Prayers for the Stolen, 2014, etc.) delivers real insight into the life of the brilliant artist as well as the glittering—but ultimately chaotic—world that consumed him. A disturbing and poetic biography of a talented but massively flawed artist.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780553419917
Publisher:
Crown/Archetype
Publication date:
11/04/2014
Pages:
208
Sales rank:
173,150
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.98(h) x 0.44(d)

Meet the Author

Jennifer Clement studied literature in New York and Paris. She was awarded the NEA Fellowship for Literature and the Sara Curry Humanitarian Award for her most recent novel, Prayers for the Stolen. Formerly president of PEN Mexico, she currently lives in Mexico City.

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