AGO welcomes legendary hip hop pioneer Fab 5 Freddy for one-day Basquiat Symposium  

Artists, musicians, authors, academics, and other creative thinkers from across Canada and the U.S. – some who knew Jean-Michel Basquiat personally – are coming together to consider the legacy of Basquiat’s artwork as part of the Toronto’s Art Gallery of Ontario’s Jean-Michel Basquiat: Now’s the Time Symposium on March 28, 2015. Panelists and participants will explore how Canadians can extend Basquiat’s groundbreaking artistic approach to confront class struggle and social hypocrisy and explore its relevance today in a society as multicultural as Toronto.

Jean-Michel Basquiat took the New York City art world by storm in the early 1980s and gained international recognition by creating powerful and expressive works that confronted issues of racism, identity and social tension. The artist’s revolutionary drawings and paintings continue to challenge perceptions, provoke vital dialogues and encourage critical thinking. Guest-curated by renowned Austrian art historian, curator and critic Dieter Buchhart, the AGO’s exhibition is the first thematic examination of the artist’s work. Inspired as much by high art — Abstract Expressionism and Conceptualism — as by jazz, sports, comics, remix culture and graffiti, Basquiat translated the world around him into a provocative visual language. Jean-Michel Basquiat: Now’s the Time will be on display Feb. 7 to May 10, 2015. Tickets are on sale now.


  • FAB 5 FREDDY, hip-hop pioneer, visual artist and filmmaker
  • THELMA GORDON, Director and Chief Curator at The Studio Museum in Harlem
  • JORDANA MOORE SAGGESE, author of Reading Basquiat and Associate Professor, California College of the Arts
  • KAREN MIRANDA AUGUSTINE, Canadian visual artist and writer
  • DANA MICHEL, choreographer and performer
  • DALTON HIGGINS, performer and author
  • DAGMAWI WOUBSHET, writer and scholar
  • WARREN CRICHLOW, Professor, York University
  • CHRISTIAN CAMPBELL, poet, scholar and cultural critic
  • STEPHANIE SMITH, Chief Curator, AGO