Greta Gerwig’s 2023 hit film Barbie has propelled the color pink into worldwide popularity since late July. Alongside its appearances in stores and wardrobes, the bold color has recently taken over a New York building once owned by Andy Warhol and rented out by Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Located at 57 Great Jones Street in Manhattan, the 3-story building served as Basquiat’s home studio from 1983 to 1988. Since Basquiat’s passing, the building has been a constant target for street artists to pay homage to the late graffiti artist with their own creations.
In July, Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie rented the building for her art and fashion project, Atelier Jolie. Jolie wrote on her social media at that time that her team would do their best “to respect and honor its artist legacy with community and creativity.”
In continuation of the graffiti tradition, a tagging of Atelier Jolie was sprayed onto the facade, while street artist Adrian Wilson also added a large crown graffiti to represent Basquiat’s artworks.
According to a Manhattan local news blog EV Grieve, the building’s facade had been covered in late August in Barbie pink paint, shocking the community and those who respect Basquiat’s legacy.
The pink paint now covers up half of the facade and Basquiat’s memorial plaque, with the original layers of graffiti works from over the years disappeared from sight. The act has been not only vandalism, but also the whitewashing of Basquiat’s street art legacy.
The vandal has been revealed as artist Roberto Palacio, who admitted on his Instagram to having painted, with his alter ego Marvel character Jericho Drumm, over the former Basquiat studio three times since July 10.
On the other side of the world, a similar incident unfolded recently in London’s Brick Lane, a cultural spot full of artistic touches such as the famous graffiti wall. In early August, a group of young Chinese artists whitewashed parts of the graffiti wall full of layers of graffiti.
After covering the background in a layer of white, the group painted 12 Chinese political slogans in red, namely the core socialist values such as “democracy”, “freedom”, “rule of law”, and “patriotism.”
The act was shocking to the London art community, but it didn’t take long for the Chinese characters to be covered by other graffiti artworks, continuing the tradition of constantly updating street art on graffiti spots.
Just as with the wall in Brick Lane, the Manhattan building’s facade has already attracted street artists to leave their tags on the pink paint. The Barbie pink hue on Basquiat’s former home is expected to disappear shortly, replaced by newer street art.