Art/Design, New Products

Check out the Basquiat Barbie (yes, you read that right)

For the culture.

words by: Sahar Khraibani
May 20, 2020

Barbie recently released their Jean-Michel Basquiat™ X Barbie® Doll – which sold out in only a week. 

This is the most recent artist-inspired Barbie, preceded by Barbie Dolls in the likeness of paintings by Da Vinci, Van Gogh, and Klimt – which also sold out immediately and now go for thousands of dollars. This new iteration, designed by Carlyle Neura, is immediately inspired by Jean-Michel Basquiat. Along these same lines, the brand has previously produced dolls inspired by the work of Keith Haring, Gustav Klimt and Andy Warhol.

Jean-Michel Basquiat was an American artist of Haitian and Puerto Rican descent. He first achieved fame as part of SAMO, an informal graffiti duo who wrote enigmatic epigrams in the cultural hotbed of the Lower East Side of Manhattan during the late 1970s, where rap, punk, and street art coalesced into early hip-hop music culture. He continued to make work way into the 1980s, where his neo-expressionist paintings were being exhibited in galleries and museums internationally. Basquiat’s art focused on exposing stark contrasts in society, such as wealth versus poverty, integration versus segregation, and inner versus outer experience. He appropriated poetry, drawing, and painting, and married text and image, abstraction, figuration, and historical information mixed with contemporary critique. 

Basquiat was one of the pioneers of his time, and it is no doubt that he is having a comeback moment, but it is interesting when this kind of referential and groundbreaking artwork manifests itself through the fashion of Basquiat’s Barbie. Is this an attempt to bring art into the lives of children in times of lockdown?

Either way, this hip as hell Barbie, with flared pants and an outfit that screams Basquiat, is a beautiful tribute to the artist.