Swatch Brings Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Artwork to Life with New Watches
If you’ve been keeping an eye on the art scene over the last few years, one name will undoubtedly have crossed your path. The work of progressive New York street artist turned pop-culture icon Jean-Michel Basquiat has enjoyed somewhat of a rebirth, more than 35 years after his untimely death. From collaborations with Saint Laurent, UNIQLO and even a rather strange Christmas campaign with Tiffany & Co, Basquiat’s star has continued to rise and the celebrity intrigue surrounding the enigmatic artist has only grown. Now, seminal watchmaker Swatch is getting in on the action, unveiling the final instalment of its Art Journey 2023 campaign, featuring three of Basquiat’s most remarkable works.
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The new Swatch x Jean-Michel Basquiat collection showcases the unique artist’s boundary-pushing scope, exploring his near-seamless blend of street and high-art faculties. Despite only being active in the scene for a few years, Basquiat’s influence cannot be understated. Inspired by his Haitian/Puerto Rican heritage, the Neo-Expressionist painter and graffiti artist was able to infuse his paintings and sculpture with a DIY sensibility that mirrored the rise of early East Coast hip-hop.
With Swatch now on-board, Basquiat is set to score another lifeline, with three watches named after and inspired by his artworks hitting the shelves. The first, Hollywood Africans, channels Basquiat’s original 1983 artwork, capturing the artist’s commentary on stereotypes involving African Americans in the entertainment industry, as well as American society at large.
Featuring a vibrant yellow dial, Hollywood Africans is instantly recognisable to Basquiat fans, courtesy of the trio of figures depicted. According to the original didactic, the figures represented are the artist himself, along with rap musician Rammellzee and painter Toxic.
The second Swatch Basquiat watch is Ishtar, which is inspired by a 1983 artwork named after Ishtar, the Mesopotamian goddess of fertility and war. It features a blend of writing and Roman numerals, set across a black stunning black dial.
Finally, Untitled features the artist’s iconic three-pointed crown motif. Reproduced in bold black lines to contrast the black case, strap underside and loop, this timepiece also features Jean-Michel Basquiat’s signature on the bottom strap.
All three watches are 41mm in diameter and unsurprisingly powered by a Swatch quartz movement. You can pick each for AUD$160, and for those lifelong Basquiat fans, there is more good news. You can score a collector’s set that includes all three, presented in unique packaging inspired by Basquiat’s artwork. Swatch x Basquiat is available in-store and online from May 11th. You can check out the full range via the link below.