Arts Explore Jean-Michel Basquiat’s New York on Two Wheels

by David Kaufman | November 09, 2022

Lisane Basquiat & Jeanine Heriveaux - Photo by Candy Kennedy

In support of the Jean-Michel Basquiat: King Pleasure© exhibit in New York, the Citi Bike® bike share system has rolled out limited edition bicycles featuring the artist’s iconic work.

Few artists exemplify the opportunity and free thinking of New York City quite like Jean-Michel Basquiat, a true native son — Brooklyn born and bred.

During his short life, New York’s endless diversity and vitality served as both an inspiration for Basquiat’s work and an urban playground when that work brought him fame. This theme is explored throughout the current exhibit co-created by the artist’s sisters Lisane Basquiat and Jeanine Heriveaux.

Much of the New York that helped shape Basquiat as a person and his work is still very much around, and all easily accessible by foot, subway and now, most scenically, via a Citi Bike bicycle. In celebration of Basquiat, there are 300 bikes stationed across Brooklyn and Manhattan displaying the artist’s Pez Dispenser painting of a dinosaur wearing a crown.

Need inspiration for your ride? Here are must-pedal places to experience the best of Basquiat’s New York City.

The Odeon Restaurant

145 West Broadway | Tribeca

Opened in 1980, Basquiat spent a lot of time at this French-American bistro, often in the company of art-world friends. Today, more than four decades after its debut, The Odeon is as relevant as ever.

Need inspiration for your ride? Here are must-pedal places to experience the best of Basquiat’s New York City.
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Starrett-Lehigh Building

601 West 26th Street | Chelsea

Perched practically on the Hudson River, the Starrett-Lehigh Building occupies an entire city block in West Chelsea. Built in 1931 as a manufacturing warehouse and railroad terminus, the structure — and its subtle yet eye-catching red brick and pale green facade — evokes the function-focused aesthetic of the International Style popular during the interwar period. Its grand gallery space has proved the perfect backdrop for the monumental "Jean-Michel Basquiat: King Pleasure" show now on display.

Basquiat’s home and studio

57 Great Jones Street | NoHo

The ground floor of this NoHo space served as Basquiat’s home from 1983 until the artist’s death five years later. Built in 1900, the bi-level building is fronted by a trio of arched windows and, for a few decades, the building was hard to miss thanks to the endless “tags” painted by artists to honor Basquiat’s style. The exterior has since been painted over, but a small plaque remains in honor of the artist’s life and legacy.

The Brooklyn Heights Promenade

Montague Street and Pierrepont Place | Brooklyn Heights

A scenic bike ride across the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan, the Brooklyn Promenade is an 1,826-foot-long pedestrian platform that’s just a short stroll from one of the elementary schools Basquiat attended. Completed in two phases in 1950-51, it’s like an open-air living room with eye-popping views across New York Harbor and over to Lower Manhattan and the Financial District.

Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM)

30 Lafayette Avenue | Fort Greene

Brooklyn Academy of Music has been delivering cutting-edge dance, music and theater performances for 150 years in this landmarked Renaissance-revival theater with room for 2,200 viewers. It's located close to the Basquiat family home in the Boerum Hill neighborhood, and the Basquiat family frequented BAM to see performances and programs.

Closeup of a Citi Bike adorned with Basquiat imagery

Photo by Candy Kennedy

The Brooklyn Museum

200 Eastern Parkway | Prospect Heights

Basquiat’s mother signed the artist up for a junior membership at the Brooklyn Museum when he was 6 years old. Today, the museum houses a handful of Basquiat's work, including a silkscreen of his seminal 1983 piece “Back of the Neck.”

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

990 Washington Avenue | Prospect Heights

Founded in 1910 and located close to the Brooklyn Museum and Prospect Park, Brooklyn Botanic Garden is an urban oasis. Rambling across 52 acres, the garden is home to approximately 14,000 different types of plants and garden habitats. Wander the Celebrity Path with plaques honoring well-known Brooklyn natives including Basquiat, who was added in 2017.

Prospect Park Long Meadow

Grand Army Plaza entrance | Park Slope

At nearly a mile in length, Prospect Park’s verdant Long Meadow is the longest stretch of “unbroken meadow” in a U.S. urban park. Basquiat regularly visited the park as a child, as memorialized in the "King Pleasure" show with a photo of the artist as an 8-year-old boy leading his little sisters by the hand.

Green-Wood Cemetery

500 25th Street | Greenwood Heights

Founded in 1838, this 478-acre, non-sectarian cemetery in Brooklyn is where Basquiat is buried, along with many other New York City legends. Accessed via a massive Gothic arch, the cemetery is a National Historic Landmark and abounds with unexpected aesthetic flourishes ranging from Victorian mausoleums to gargoyles and cherubs — as well as a flock of bright green Monk Parrots native to Argentina.

Two sisters in conversation as they walk down the street

Photo by Candy Kennedy

David Kaufman

is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in The New York Times, New York Post, Monocle, AirMail and The Financial Times. The former global digital director at Architectural Digest, he lives in New York City with his twin sons.