September 3 2014

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The Bowery Boys: Nicholas Taylor’s Photos of Basquiat


Nicholas Taylor introduced Madonna to Jean-Michel Basquiat in the early eighties, starting a tumultuous relationship between the pop icon and late artist. It was just one of Taylor’s daily adventures as a member of pre-punk band Gray, which he played in with Basquiat. Last night in London at the opening of Jean-Michel Basquiat Through Nicholas Taylor, an exhibit of Taylor’s black-and-white images chronicling those heady years, the musician-slash-photographer was quite logically in memory-lane mode. “Jean-Michel and I hit it off right away, even though he was a few years younger than me,” said Taylor. “An average night for us consisted of stealing beers off tables at the clubs. Then we would get into the subway and he would discreetly pull out a marker and start doing his graffiti thing. It’s like he had a twitch and had to be drawing all the time.”

The pre-Frieze exhibit offers a sartorial takeaway of the now-iconic downtown New York era as well. Taylor collaborated with the Japanese/Scandinavian design team the Inoue Brothers on a series of limited-edition T-shirts and jackets from Ralph Lauren, Lacoste, and Levi’s printed with graphics from the photographs. They’re currently stocked exclusively at Dover Street Market. And what of the Queen of Pop? Does Taylor see her anymore? “I was walking down University and Twelfth the other day and I heard someone say ‘Hey Nick’ and it was Madonna,” he said. “I recognized her right away, but no one else did because she was in a hoodie and shades. She gave me a big hug. Yeah, I guess we did have a lot of fun at the Mudd Club back then. It was wild.”

Photos: top, Nicholas Taylor; bottom, Courtesy of Dover Street Market

Dept. of Culture