Mario Schifano and Basquiat

What do Mario Schifano and Jean-Michel Basquiat have in common? 

The two artists, from Rome and America respectively, shared the city of Modena, a warehouse, and some huge blank canvases.

But first things first.


In May 1981, when Basquiat (Brooklyn 1960- New York 1988), was 21 and just starting out, the great art dealer and gallerist Emilio Mazzoli invited him to Modena for his first European solo show under the pseudonym Samo©.

In 1982 he returned to Modena for another show organized by Mazzoli, who this time suggested he sign his works with his real name.

Mazzoli gave him a warehouse in which to work.

Now here comes the good part.

The warehouse was where Mario Schifano also worked for Mazzoli and where some huge blank canvases and a few finished works were stacked, all belonging to the king of the Piazza del Popolo School.

Working at a frenzied pace (sound familiar?) Basquiat used these canvases and in one week created eight monumental paintings larger than any he had done before.

Mario Schifano’s expression “Crucified to a horseshoe” rings truer than ever. His forgotten canvases created another artist. Maybe some of his genius even rubbed off on those eight canvases, now all in private collections.

Mario Schifano
Mario Schifano vs Jean-Michel Basquiat