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Outdoor photo of the front of The Shainman Gallery, formerly the Martin Van Buren Elementary School in Kinderhook, New York, hosts Basquiat x Warhol through September 7; photo by Robin Catalano.
The Shainman Gallery, in Kinderhook, New York, hosts Basquiat x Warhol through September 7; photo by Robin Catalano.

Weekend Pick: Basquiat x Warhol at The School

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The pretty and petite Village of Kinderhook in Columbia County, New York, is a place where you’d expect to find historic buildings, vintage-inspired restaurants, and well-groomed, flower-lined streets. And it does have all of those things—plus an unexpected, worth-the-detour extra: The School, Jack Shainman Gallery, which hosts the world-class Basquiat x Warhol exhibit through September 7.

The School is located in—you guessed it—a school: the 30,000-square-foot former Martin Van Buren Elementary School, which closed in 2012 and seemed destined to become yet another unoccupied relic until it was purchased by gallerist Jack Shainman, who also owns an eponymous gallery in New York City.

Interior photo of cavernous gallery includes one woman in distance viewing a large painting on a wall; The former Martin Van Buren Elementary School school has ample spatial resources to accomodate Basquiat x Warhol; photo  by Robin-Catalano.
The former Martin Van Buren Elementary School school has ample spatial resources to accomodate Basquiat x Warhol; photo by Robin-Catalano.

Basquiat x Warhol documents, through more than 100 works, the evolution of the two famed artists and their complicated relationship in the last years of their life. Spread over three floors, it includes everything from framed Polaroids of Warhol’s to Basquiat’s marker drawings on porcelain plates and a continuous screening, down a shady alley-like alcove, of PBS American Masters’ Basquiat: Rags to Riches.

Photo of a documentary projected on a screen; the PBS American Masters’ Basquiat: Rags to Riches, is on a continuous loop in a kinda sketchy hidey-hole; photo by Robin Catalano.
The PBS American Masters’ Basquiat: Rags to Riches, is on a continuous loop in a kinda sketchy hidey-hole; photo by Robin Catalano.

On the bottom floor are eight collaborative paintings the two artists—Basquiat on the rise and Warhol on something of an artistic decline—created between 1984 and 1985, when they shared a studio in New York City. Warhol would start a painting, and Basquiat would add to it. The effect is canvases that seem to contain a dialogue in a language known only to the two artists.

The collaboration was critically savaged when it was first staged in 1985, but deserves revisiting with a fresh eye. Basquiat x Warhol also includes a variety of other lesser-known yet intriguing works, from Warhol’s supersize, irreverent Last Supper homage to Basquiat’s mixed-media collages, like Embittered (1986).

Photo of Warhol's "Last Supper" This exhibition provides a rare opportunity to see Warhol’s sprawling Last Supper; by Robin Catalano.
This exhibition provides a rare opportunity to see Warhol’s sprawling Last Supper; by Robin Catalano.

After the exhibit, stop for dinner at The Flammerie, a farm-to-table bistro with European, wood-fired flair, or Saisonnier, which features a dairy lover’s dream selection of artisanal cheeses ready for the cheese board or sandwich, plus dozens of independent craft beers. Or for takeout and a sweet treat, head out on Route 9 for Samascott’s Garden Market. Here you can pick up fresh-from-the-fields produce and flowers, refrigerated prepared foods, and cider doughnuts. Don’t pass up a scoop of homemade lavender honey ice cream, or a rotating selection of vegan flavors.

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