Indeed, Verda’s website made no mention of Basquiat, and instead described the show in ambiguous terms, saying the works were “traditional expressionist masks made of paperboard and wood, representing the ancient spirits that still inhabit our modern world.” Though his Instagram dropped references to Basquiat in some of captions below the images, others were presented without directly mentioning him, instead including hashtags such as #AfricanArt #streetart and #neoexpressionism. All the work has been taken down from his website, and at some point during the barrage of attacks the artist made his Instagram private.
Despite cancelling the show, Galerie Sakura stands by its artist. In response to the criticism, Simon said, “A lot of artists work like that, they draw inspiration from another artist or movement.”
Though Basquiat’s mentor Andy Warhol
famously said, “Art is what you can get away with,” it’s clear that Verda took this a bit too far.