Pink Paint Job Plagues Artist’s Former Home


The home and studio exterior of renowned artist Jean-Michel Basquiat was covered in paint last month, leaving a mystery in its “Pepto-pink” wake.

The space had recently been rented out by actress Angelina Jolie to use for her new fashion label headquarters; however, Jolie had reportedly vowed to leave the façade untouched.

What Happened

Basquiat was an American artist in the 1980s, known for his street art and Neo-expressionism style. According to Art Life, he gained celebrity due to his “striking art and electrifying personality,” as a cultural icon in New York City. Upon his death in 1988, he left behind “917 drawings, 25 sketchbooks, 85 prints, and 171 paintings.”

The New York building reportedly has its own fair share of history as well, with Basquiat leasing the property from his friend and fellow artist Andy Warhol from 1983. There’s also a “legend” that the 1860s building was once the headquarters of gangster Paul Kelly. Most recently, the location was an invite-only Japanese restaurant called Bohemian. 

Art Net notes that the building was made available to new occupants last November by Meridian Capital Group. With a price tag of $60,000 per month, it was described as an “open loft space with high ceilings and multiple skylights.”

“A privilege to be in this space,” Jolie wrote on Instagram regarding the building. “We will do our best to respect and honor its artist legacy with community and creativity.”

This reportedly included not wanting to change the building’s exterior, which was covered in graffiti tributes to Basquiat’s legacy. In July, Adrian Wilson had added a crown, one of Basquiat’s signatures, to its facade and cleaned the memorial and historic preservation plaque.

However, in August, passersby noticed that the studio had been coated in pink paint, including the plaque. A realtor for the building declined to comment on whether the Pepto-pink paint job was authorized, the New York Post reported.

Other Recent Pink Paint News

In June, the production designer for the recently released “Barbie” movie said that the film led to a global pink paint shortage. Specifically, the set design for the production caused an international run on the fluorescent pink shade of Rosco paint.

Rosco is reportedly known for supplying the entertainment industry with products like scenic paints, color filters and other equipment, including certain tints specifically formulated for the screen.

Lauren Proud, Rosco's Vice President of Global Marketing, told reporters that “they used as much paint as we had,” but that it was in short supply to begin with during the movie's production in 2022. This, in part, was attributed to pandemic-related supply chain issues and recovering from the 2021 Texas Freeze that damaged raw materials.

Paying homage to the iconic Mattel doll, director Greta Gerwig, alongside Greenwood and set decorator Katie Spencer, took inspiration from Palm Springs midcentury modernism to “make Barbie real through this unreal world.”

However, Greenwood and Spencer had never owned a Barbie, so they ordered a Barbie Dreamhouse online to study. The cinematic version of the home was then erected at the Warner Bros. Studios lot outside of London, complete with a “three-story fuchsia fantasy” and a slide that coils into a kidney-shaped pool.

Then, the following month, British artist Stuart Semple unveiled his new fluorescent pink paint for artists everywhere in protest of Mattel trademarking the color “Barbie Pink.” The “Pinkie” color is marketed as “the flattest, mattest highly pigmented fluorescent pink acrylic paint.” And, in addition to rival Anish Kapoor, Mattel is banned from using the color.

According to the product’s listing, Semple released the product with the goal to share it with artists all over the world (as long as they are not associated with Mattel) to ensure they have access to special colors that can be used in their works.

Pinkie reportedly uses a special blend of high-quality acrylic resins, optical brighteners and new fluorescent pigments to make a flat matte pink. Its packaging is also reminiscent of old Barbie boxes.


Tagged categories: Architecture; Artists; Building Envelope; Building facades; Coating Materials - Commercial; Color; Color + Design; Color + Design; Exterior coatings; Graffiti; Historic Preservation; NA; North America; Paint; Program/Project Management

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