Lesson Plans

1) Warhol, Basquiat and Collaboration. http://www.warhol.org/education/pdfs/Final%20Warhol%20and%20Collaboration.pdf & http://edu.warhol.org/pdf/basquiat.pdf (educational handouts from the Andy Warhol Museum).

2) Classroom Activity Suggestions, based on the Brooklyn Museum’s Street to Studio site. http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/exhibitions/basquiat/street-to-studio/english/forteachers.php

3) Scholastic Art magazine for school students includes a portion on Basquiat in the September/October 2009 issue, devoted to Rauschenberg’s “combine” paintings and related work. It illustrates Basquiat’s complex and intriguing painting with found objects Self Portrait as a Young Derelict (1982) and gives brief background, highlighting new art-related vocabulary words. The teachers guide describes art activities and provides a quiz including questions about Basquiat’s use of found objects and symbolic words, and popular opinions on graffiti. The sections on Rauschenberg and other related artists are also well illustrated and thought out.

4) Lesson Plan based on Basquiat, the Julian Schnabel film. http://www.hotalingart.com/uploads/Basquiat_Film_Lesson_Plan.pdf (using the film, a worksheet and writen asignment, aims to give students an understanding of Basquiat and the Neo-Expressionist art movement)

5) Hip Hop Notions. http://www.tip.sas.upenn.edu/curriculum/units/2008/03/08.03.01.pdf (16 page PDF from Audry Jackson at a John Bartram High School in Pennsylvania)

6) Jean-Michel Basquiat, Teacher Information Center at the Museum of Modern Art. This Lesson considers the idea of expression in relation to Basquiat’s Untitled 1981 (in the collection of MOMA in New York City). The lesson on Basquiat (http://www.moma.org/modernteachers/lesson.php?lessonID=40) is lesson 1 of 20 from the guide Latin American and Caribbean Modern and Contemporary Art. Also see a PDF of the full 54 page Latin American and Caribbean Modern and Contemporary Art: A Guide for Educators:

7) Chris Ofili. In addition to comparing Basquiat to his more traditional influences (like Rauschenberg or Warhol), to graffiti painters, or to his contemporary neo-expressionists (like Schnabel), it would be interesting to compare him to a more recent black painter working in the art world now, like Chris Ofili. Ofili was born in Manchester, England in 1968, of Nigerian ancestry, and became an art star with the 1990s “New British Artists,” just as the New York born Basquiat (of Caribbean ancestry) became a star with the 1980s “Neo-Expressionists.” Both use black themes, mixtures of words and images, abstraction and figuration, collage and painting, in different but comparable ways. For the recent Ofili retrospective at the Tate in London, artist Abigail Hunt and educator Pascale Guychard wrote an excellent 13 page “Teacher’s and Student’s Notes“ on Ofili. The Tate also made a few short video clips on the exhibition that could be used in class to stimulate discussion.

8) The commercial website LessonPlanet.com lists 10 different lesson plans related to Jean-Michel Basquiat (including a few of the above), reviewed by teachers, but the full text is limited to subscribers.


In How to Talk to Children About Art by FranCoise Barbe-Gall (Chicago Review Press, 2005), one of the example paintings illustrated is Basquiat’s King of the Zulus (1984-85). Despite some omissions (she treats the King of the Zulus as strictly an African figure, not mentioning hints that the painting depicts Louis Armstrong, who was crowned the yearly “King of the Zulus” in a famous New Orleans Mardi Gras tradition) the several pages of questions about the Basquiat painting are useful in themselves, and very good examples of how to look at modern art for young people. (You can get a taste of the book in the partial e-book online – http://www.amazon.com/How-Talk-Children-About-Art/dp/155652580X/#reader_155652580X)