On Hip Hop‘s 50th Anniversary, Here Are the Essential Museum Shows Celebrating the Movement‘s History and Enduring Legacy

The year 2023 marks half a century since DJ Kool Herc dropped the first breakbeat at a house party in the Bronx, inadvertently birthing the style, movement, and whole culture we now know as hip hop. In the following decades, hip hop has topped charts, shaped fashions, inspired visual arts, and powered social justice causes, all as part of its globe-dominating footprint. “Hip hop,” as Snoop Dogg once put it, “is what makes the world go around.”

This year, celebrations have naturally been lined up to commemorate hip hop’s 50th anniversary. For one, New York City, the genre’s birthplace, will partner with the Universal Hip Hop Museum to stage 50 special events over 50 days. Other museums are not sitting this one out either. Below are a handful of upcoming exhibitions that are opening in time to honor hip hop’s long, rich, and enduring legacy.


Hip-Hop: Conscious, Unconscious
Fotografiska New York
January 26–May 21, 2023

David Corio, De La Soul outside the Apollo Theater, NYC (1993). Photo: Courtesy of Fotografiska New York and copyright of the artist.

To trace hip hop’s trajectory from its origins as a community concern to its emergence as a global juggernaut, Fotografiska, in conjunction with Mass Appeal, will exhibit a trove of images documenting some of the scene’s most notable players and moments. Here, photographs of the history-making likes of Grandmaster Flash, Lil’ Kim, and Beastie Boys will sit across from those of fresh faces including Kendrick Lamar and Megan Thee Stallion—all lensed by legendary photographers from Janette Beckman to Ricky Powell.

Key to the show is its focus on hip hop’s grassroots founding, aided by archival ephemera that will add context to the images on view. “It’s easy to forget that there was a time before hip hop was an industry and before it made money,” said Sacha Jenkins, CCO of Mass Appeal and the show’s co-curator. “The exhibition’s lifeblood is the period before hip hop knew what it was.”


Fresh, Fly, and Fabulous: 50 Years of Hip Hop Style
The Museum at FIT
February 8–April 23, 2023

Beau McCall, Black Lives Matter Triple T-shirt, 2021. Photo: © The Museum at FIT.

From Kangol hats and Adidas Superstars to Dapper Dan jackets and Timberland boots—hip hop artists have made significant stylistic choices across generations, and in turn, transformed the fashion landscape. Through an assembly of more than 100 garments and accessories, the Museum at FIT will explore the role of fashion in hip hop. Over the decades, the movement has revolutionized streetwear and athleisure, used apparel to center Black pride and strength, and ultimately, shifted the luxury market. 

Look out for key fashions such as the Karl Kani pieces worn by Tupac Shakur, the Tommy Hilfiger bandeau Aaliyah once donned, tracksuits beloved by Run DMC, among spotlights on labels like FUBU, Rocawear, and Fenty launched by hip hop entrepreneurs themselves.


The Culture: Hip Hop and Contemporary Art in the 21st Century
Baltimore Museum of Art
April 5–July 16, 2023

Hassan Hajjaj, Cardi B Unity (2017). Photo: Courtesy the artist and Yossi Milo Gallery, New York.

In this collaborative exhibition, the Baltimore Museum of Art and Saint Louis Art Museum will track the wide-ranging impact of hip hop on popular culture since 2000. In particular, the show examines how the movement has challenged dominant cultural narratives and structures, surfacing themes from sexuality to poverty to urbanism, via the urgent and essential works of Black creatives.

Some 70 objects are on view, spanning a variety of mediums and created by artists not limited to Jean-Michel Basquiat, Nina Chanel Abney, Virgil Abloh, Lauren Halsey, and Arthur Jafa. Collectively, they offer “an opportunity to celebrate the richness of creativity and innovation hip hop has catalyzed by exploring it through social, material, and art historical lenses,” per Gamynne Guillotte, the BMA’s Chief Education Officer. 

Following its Baltimore dates, the exhibition will run at the Saint Louis Art Museum from August 25, 2023 through January 1, 2024.

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7 Exhibits From L.A.’s Academy Museum That Show How It Rethinks Hollywood History, From Boundary-Breaking Oscar Fashion to Problematic Makeup

After numerous delays, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures finally opened its doors this week, as members of the public were invited into the new seven-story, Renzo Piano-designed shrine to movie magic for the first time. 

The project has always been a high-profile one, and not just because of Hollywood’s outsized cultural influence or the names involved in bringing the thing to life (Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, and Bob Iger, to name a few).

The stakes were high: the industry, still reckoning with the problems laid bare by campaigns like “#MeToo” and “#OscarsSoWhite,” now has another identity crisis on its hands as the pandemic has fundamentally changed the way films are financed and experienced. Reverence for the institution is fading, evidenced by the lowest-ever ratings achieved by the most recent Academy Awards.

As Janelle Zara recently wrote, the entire way the museum tells cinema history has been reimagined to meet these questions and create a broader, more contemporary, and perhaps more engaging view of its subject matter. That’s not to say, though, that you won’t also find pieces of memorabilia from your favorite movies on display.

Dorothy’s ruby slippers, Okoye’s Black Panther outfit, and an animatronic E.T.—among many other greatest hits—are all on view as the public gets its first glimpse at the experience, alongside debut exhibitions devoted to filmmakers Hayao Miyazaki and Pedro Almodóvar.

To illustrate the scope of the museum’s vision, we asked collections curator Nathalie Morris to highlight a few of her favorite objects from the collection. Below are seven novel movie artifacts selected by Morris that give a sense of what to expect from the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, along with the curator’s commentary on each.


1) Phantasmagoria Magic Lantern

© Academy Museum Foundation.

© Academy Museum Foundation.

“Produced by English inventor Phillip Carpenter around 1821, this quirky-looking lantern was designed for rear, as opposed to front projection. It could create spooky apparitions and make specters appear and disappear at will, a defining feature of the phantasmagoria show, a precursor to the modern horror genre. This piece is part of the museum’s Richard Balzer Collection, on show as part of ‘The Path to Cinema.’ It’s a significant part of the centuries-long story of how optical devices have been used to tell stories, enthrall viewers and bring still images to life.”


2) Max Factor Pan-Cake Make-Ups

Max Factor Pan-Cake make-ups on display in the Acadamy Museum. Photo: Joshua White. ©Academy Museum Foundation.

Max Factor Pan-Cake make-ups on display in the Acadamy Museum. Photo: Joshua White. ©Academy Museum Foundation.

“Max Factor was an instrumental figure in the development of make-up for cinema, creating new products to match advances in film technology. He invented Pan-Cake make-up in response to the evolution of Technicolor in the 1930s, to ensure actors appeared with natural complexions on screen. While we salute his technical genius, we also want to highlight how these products reflect Hollywood’s problematic relationship to race, casting, and performance. Shades on display include ‘Light Egyptian,’ ‘Dark Egyptian,’ ‘Indian’ and ‘Chinese’—which were largely intended for use on white actors. Most problematic, of course, is the shade ‘Minstrel,’ an explicit reference to the long-standing practice of blackface.

The display of these pieces (curated by my colleagues Ana Santiago and Dara Jaffe as part of our ‘Identity’ gallery) is accompanied by a slideshow that contextualizes them within the history of racist casting and make-up practices. This explores the tradition of minstrelsy, racial stereotyping, and the long-standing practice of casting white actors to play people of color—an accepted norm that for a long time shut non-white actors out of roles and opportunities. For instance, Lena Horne was one of the few leading Black actresses in classical-era Hollywood. She lost out on the role of Julie in Showboat (1951) to Ava Gardner, who played a Black woman passing as white, wearing make-up to darken her skin. It’s only by confronting histories such as these that we can fully understand the past and strive for a more equitable future.”


3) Technicolor Camera From 1937

A Technicolor camera on display at the new Academy Museum in Los Angeles, CA Tuesday, September 21, 2021. Photo: David Crane/MediaNews Group/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images.

A Technicolor camera on display at the new Academy Museum in Los Angeles, CA Tuesday, September 21, 2021. Photo: David Crane/MediaNews Group/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images.

“Technicolor was a color camera system that shot some of the most visually stunning movies of all time, including The Wizard of Oz. Introduced in 1932, three-strip Technicolor represented a huge advance in motion picture technology, enabling an expressive and richly saturated palette for filmmakers to work with. The camera itself is also an elegant and beautiful piece of equipment and no collection of film technology would be complete without one.”


4) Olympia Typewriter Used by Joseph Stefano

The typewriter used by <i>Psycho</i> screenwriter Joseph Stefano. Photo: Joshua White. ©Academy Museum Foundation.

The typewriter used by Psycho screenwriter Joseph Stefano. Photo: Joshua White. ©Academy Museum Foundation.

“This typewriter was used by then-novice screenwriter Joseph Stefano to write the script for Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960). Adapted from the 1959 novel by Robert Bloch, the film challenged the censors, terrified audiences and revitalized Hitchcock’s career, making him relevant to a new generation. As well playing a part in one of the most influential films of all time, the typewriter also serves to represent a key tool of the screenwriter (or the studio typing pool) before the introduction of personal computers and screenwriting software from the 1980s onwards.”


5) Dress Worn by Rita Moreno to the Academy Awards in 1962 and 2018

Actress Rita Moreno with her Academy Award in 1962. Courtesy of Getty Images.

Actress Rita Moreno with her Academy Award in 1962. Courtesy of Getty Images.

“The Academy Museum has a growing collection of significant Academy Awards red carpet fashions. This dress was worn by Rita Moreno, the first Latina actress to win an Academy Award, when she won Best Supporting Actress for the role of Anita in West Side Story (1961). Moreno accepted her statuette in this black and gold dress designed by Filipino fashion legend Pitoy Moreno. She wore the same dress again, altered to become strapless and accessorized with gloves and jewelry, when she was a presenter in 2018.”


6) Costume Worn by Diana Ross in Lady Sings the Blues (1972)

A costume worn by Diana Ross as Billie Holiday in <i>Lady Sings the Blues</i> (1972). Photo: Joshua White. © Academy Museum Foundation.

A costume worn by Diana Ross as Billie Holiday in Lady Sings the Blues (1972). Photo: Joshua White. © Academy Museum Foundation.

“Diana Ross wore this skirt suit in her Oscar-nominated performance as Billie Holiday in Lady Sings the Blues. Originally Norma Koch was to design all the costumes for the film, but shortly before filming commenced Ross had Bob Mackie and Ray Aghayan brought on to design her costumes (they had previously created many of her looks for concerts and television appearances). Given the short time window, Mackie and Aghayan were unable to make all of her costumes from scratch. This piece was inspired by Holiday’s style in the late ’40s/early ’50s, particularly in the film New Orleans (1947). It was selected from stock at Paramount studios and customized with the distinctive ‘B’ on the lapel, a great example of how practicality, problem-solving, and creativity come together in film costuming.”


7) Kazu Hiro Prosthetics for Charlize Theron in Bombshell (2019)

Charlize Theron in <i>Bombshell</i> (2019). Courtesy of Annapurna Pictures.

Charlize Theron in Bombshell (2019). Courtesy of Annapurna Pictures.

“Special effects make-up artist Kazu Hiro transformed Charlize Theron into Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly for 2019’s Bombshell. If you look carefully at these pieces (with the help of the accompanying interview with Hiro) you can understand the way in which he altered Theron’s chin, jawline, eyelids, eye color, and even nostrils to support her tour de force performance. Theron was nominated for an Oscar for her role, and Hiro, along with Vivian Baker and hair designer Anne Morgan, took home the award for Makeup and Hairstyling.”

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The Best and Worst of the Art World This Week

The Met Meets American Fashion – The long-awaited Met Gala took place in September this year, and we’ve got all the celeb-art lookalikes from the red carpet.

Art History Prof Makes Mega Discovery – An art history professor visiting a church in Westchester spotted a canvas that is now being hailed as a rare Italian Baroque painting.

Philadelphia Museum Carries Out Czech Restitution – The Philadelphia Museum is returning a looted ancient “pageant shield” to the Czech Republic.

A Triumph at the Arc de Triomphe – The Parisian landmark has been swathed in fabric, fulfilling the posthumous dream of artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude.

Judd Foundation Jumps Ship – In a major market merry-go-round move, the Donald Judd foundation has left David Zwirner for Gagosian Gallery.

Porcelains Shatter Estimates – A Sotheby’s auction of restituted Meissen porcelain far exceeded expectations, raking in $15 million.

Germany Gives Aid – As part of a $35 million aid package, cultural institutions will now get help in recovering from the summer’s historic floods.

White Male for Sale at Christie’s – Artist Dread Scott is selling video art as an NFT depicting a white man on a slave auction block.

Stonehenge Gets a Makeover – For the first time in decades, Stonehenge will undergo a major restoration of toppled and cracked stones.

Outcry Squashes Indigenous Women Statue – Artist Pedro Reyes has stepped away from a project to replace a Christopher Columbus statue with one of Indigenous Women after activists said a woman should have the job.

You Can Buy a $3 Million Avocado Sculpture – An artist is selling a gilded sculpture of avocado toast, a symbol of the millennial lifestyle, for $2.9 million.

Beeple Gets the Immersive Art Treatment – Beeple’s $69 million NFT artwork is set to star in an immersive experience—with a whopping $150 entrance fee.

History Sold to the Highest Bidder – An Osage cave containing prehistoric art was sold for $2.2 million at auction, in a “heartbreaking” act.

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Simon de Pury on How the World’s Top Fashion Houses Have Worked With Artists to Create a Red-Hot Market for Collaborations

Every month in The Hammer, art-industry veteran Simon de Pury lifts the curtain on his life as the ultimate art-world insider, his brushes with celebrity, and his invaluable insight into the inner workings of the art market.

In 2019 I conducted an auction in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, to raise funds toward protecting the dwindling population of snow leopards. Included in it was a clutch bag by Olympia Le-Tan. There was spirited bidding, and to my own surprise the price had climbed up to $90,000 by the time I sold it to a very elegant lady in the room.

A few days after the auction, OLT’s cofounder Grégory Bernard asked me to curate a collection of clutch bags for them. I accepted, as at a number of galas and special events I had been struck by the originality of these accessories, which reimagine classic book covers and art, and were invariably worn by the most interesting women. Olympia Le-Tan managed to create an exquisitely crafted fashion accessory that looks as good when in use or when simply lying on a coffee table.

I was a great admirer of Olympia’s father, Pierre Le-Tan, whose illustrations graced the pages of numerous publications, including the New Yorker, Vogue, and the New York Times Magazine. He was also a connoisseur and eclectic collector. I had the privilege of being the auctioneer for the sale of part of his collection at Sotheby’s in London in 1995.

Tête de femme avec un chapeau à pompons, OLT X Picasso.

Tête de femme avec un chapeau à pompons, OLT X Picasso.

Before giving thought as to which favorite album or book covers to select, I felt the dream would be to choose works by the greatest artist of the 20th century, Pablo Picasso. I called Almine Rech Picasso to discuss the idea. She put me in touch with the Picasso Administration, for whom OLT prepared a detailed proposal. The embroiderers and stitchers started the search for the finest silk threads that would faithfully render the color range of the original works. Little did I realize that, after it was agreed, it would take months for each clutch bag to be produced. OLT will therefore come out every few months with another Picasso clutch in limited editions of 77.

This fun project made me reflect on the cross-fertilization between the worlds of art and fashion. The greatest fashion designers were at all times naturally drawn to art. It is therefore hardly surprising that some of them figure among the greatest collectors. Picasso’s seminal 1906 masterwork Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, which is one of the quintessential works hanging at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), used to belong to the French couturier Jacques Doucet, who bought it in 1924. Karl Lagerfeld, Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino Garavani, Giancarlo Giammetti, and Hubert de Givenchy are not only part of the pantheon of fashion but are also some of the most significant collectors and tastemakers in the world of art.

Despite that, there were clear borders between art and fashion. For an artist to do work for a fashion brand would have been seen as a perilous exercise.

The actual game changer was Bernard Arnault, the chief executive and owner of LVMH. Under his leadership, the designers of his main brands—above all Louis Vuitton and Dior—have instigated some of the most successful collaborations between artists and fashion houses to ever take place.

When a big retrospective of Takashi Murakami took place at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, not only did a number of paintings include the LV logo, but one room was devoted to the bags the artist had created for Vuitton, and they could be purchased then and there in the museum. Those manning the cash register must have been thrilled, but it made the soi-disant defenders of high art cringe.

Models hold Louis Vuitton bags designed by Richard Prince at the Louis Vuitton cocktail reception celebrating the Richard Prince exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum on January 8, 2007 in New York City. Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images.

Models hold Louis Vuitton bags designed by Richard Prince at the Louis Vuitton cocktail reception celebrating the Richard Prince exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum on January 8, 2007, in New York City. Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images.

I am an unconditional admirer of Richard Prince, so when Marc Jacobs chose him to design a series of Vuitton bags covered with his jokes and nurses, I was ecstatic. The bags were released gradually, and the chief salesman at the LV store on the Champs-Élysées had the power to decide who was worthy of acquiring them. I would show up after each new release. He would ask me, “Did your wife like it?” I was not married at the time, but did not dare to admit that I was buying them for myself. The prices for Prince’s paintings were rising steeply, so while the bags are not exactly cheap, they were clearly more affordable than his canvases. I still have them wrapped up, and have actually never opened them.

The collaboration between Yayoi Kusama and Louis Vuitton helped towards establishing her in the art-world firmament. While the bags she created for the brand were being sold, her original paintings were being presented on the VIP floor of the Vuitton store on Bond Street in London. I was particularly fascinated by little plastic figurines of the artist herself. I was desperate to get my hands on one and used all my contacts, to no avail. I was told that they would all be destroyed once the display was over. I don’t know whether this really happened, but I have not come across any such figurine since. KAWS managed to do collaborations to satisfy both his “high” and “low” fan bases more or less simultaneously, when he collaborated with Dior and Uniqlo. I tried my luck at Uniqlo to get a T-shirt for my youngest daughter, but they were all sold out.

A general view during the Louis Vuitton And Yayoi Kusama Collaboration Unveiling at Louis Vuitton Maison on July 10, 2012 in New York City. Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage.

A general view during the unveiling of the Louis Vuitton and Yayoi Kusama collaboration at Louis Vuitton Maison on July 10, 2012, in New York City. Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage.

I always felt that the work of Kenny Scharf was undervalued. His current collaboration with Dior has changed this. There has been heated competition for his works in recent auctions. There again are wonderful plastic sculptures created by Scharf for the Dior shop windows around the world. Here as well, I was unable to acquire any of them. Urs Fischer has also decorated the Vuitton window displays around the world. There would be a red-hot collector’s market for the temporary display objects the main fashion brands use for their collaborations with artists.

For his collaboration with the Vuitton brand, Jeff Koons used some of the biggest brands of art history: Da Vinci, Titian, Rubens, Fragonard, Boucher, Turner, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Manet, and Monet. Not only did he employ some of their best-known works, as he did in his gazing ball series, he also plastered their names in metallic capital letters across the accessories. The LV logo had a JK logo symmetrically placed across it, and a Koons rabbit in leather was attached to each bag. It was a brand splashing brands on a brand. In 2014, I auctioned a Koons sculpture inspired by Picasso’s Blue Period work La Soupe, which had several Hermès Kelly bags hanging on its arms. The proceeds went to a United Nations campaign for vaccination—we could use such a campaign now!—that was supported by Svetlana Kuzmicheva-Uspenskaya.

In the nearly 20 years since the initial cooperation between Takashi Murakami and Vuitton took place, such collaborations no longer ruffle the feathers of “serious” art lovers. On the contrary, the wider reach and recognition the fashion world is a must for any artist wishing for mainstream notoriety. With at least 40 percent Asian buyers in the main international contemporary art auctions, this is not surprising. After all, many of Asia’s mega-malls, notably in Japan, have been cultural dynamos, staging art exhibitions since the 1960s. As a believer in contemporary culture overall, I applaud the blurring of lines between the worlds of art, music, fashion, architecture, design, photography, and cinema.

Simon de Pury is the former chairman and chief auctioneer of Phillips de Pury & Company and is a private dealer, art advisor, photographer, and DJ. Instagram: @simondepury

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Are We in for a Basquiat Auction Boom? A Fashion Executive’s Rare Skull Painting Could Fetch Over $50 Million at Christie’s

The season of dueling Basquiats is upon us, with two major paintings up for sale next month—one at Christie’s, the other at Sotheby’s. Together, they may bring in $100 million.

Christie’s will offer In This Case (1983), a large skull on a red background, in its New York evening sale of 21st century art on May 11. The canvas has an unpublished estimate of about $50 million. Two days after that, Versus Medici (1982) will be part of Sotheby’s contemporary art evening auction on May 13, where it is estimated to bring in between $35 million to $50 million.

“It’s going to be Basquiat versus Basquiat,” said Alberto Mugrabi, a private art dealer and collector. “They are both great paintings.”

The works come to market as demand for Basquiat is surging, according to dealers and auction executives. Just last month, Basquiat’s Warrior (1982) fetched $41.8 million at Christie’s Hong Kong, a new record for a Western artist in Asia. Last year, hedge-fund manager Ken Griffin paid more than $100 million for a major 1982 Basquiat owned by newsprint magnate Peter Brant during the pandemic lockdown.

The seller of the skull at Christie’s is Italian businessman Giancarlo Giammetti, a co-founder of the Valentino fashion house, according to a person familiar with the work. It used to hang in Giammetti’s Manhattan apartment, where it was photographed above his dining table in a 2013 Architectural Digest spread. Christie’s declined to comment on the identity of the seller. Giammetti could not be immediately reached for comment.

Installation view of Basquiat's retrospective at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris. Photo: Christie's.

Installation view of Basquiat’s retrospective at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris. Photo: Christie’s.

Skulls are among Basquiat’s most sought-after works. The symbol is part momento mori, an icon of death; part self-portrait; and part memorable logo, harkening back to Basquiat’s origins as a street artist.

Giammetti purchased the painting for $999,500 at Sotheby’s in 2002. It is the last of three large skull canvases Basquiat made in successive years, according to Christie’s.

In This Case was included in the late artist’s blockbuster retrospective in 2018 at the Fondation Louis Vuitton, where the three skulls hung together. The other two are an untitled blue skull from 1982 that Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa bought for $110.5 million in 2017, and a blue-and-peach one from 1981 in the collection of the Broad museum in Los Angeles. Maezawa’s work holds Basquiat’s auction record.

Christie’s rival Sotheby’s is hoping to strike gold with the seven-foot-tall Versus Medici, which Basquiat painted soon after an influential trip to Italy in 1981. The painting is among the artist’s “most forceful visual challenges to the Western art establishment, in which the young artist boldly crowns himself—the son of immigrants from Haiti and Puerto Rico—as successor to the artistic throne as established by the masters of the Italian Renaissance,” according to the house.

Art handlers with Basquiat's Versus Medici (1982). Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Art handlers with Basquiat’s Versus Medici (1982). Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Only two other works by the artist have sold for more than $50 million at auction.

“Everything that relates to the new generation of Black artists, he was the beginning of all this,” said Alex Rotter, Christie’s chairman of 20th and 21st century art. “Without Basquiat, art history of the past 40 years would have been very different. He’s the most desirable artist at the moment.”

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