Diaspora-Artists logo


Adrian Dannatt

Born, 1963

Adrian Dannatt is the son of architect Trevor Dannatt. He is remembered in some quarters as the child star of the London Weekend Television series Just William,  based on the novels of author Richmal Crompton, that aired in the late 1970s. Dannatt has since worked as an artist, art critic, writer, editor and journalist. He was responsible for a feature on Jean-Michel Basquiat that appeared in Bonhams magazine, Spring 2012 (It’s a mad world: Jean Michel Basquiat, one of the most talented artists of his generation, died of a heroin overdose aged only 27. Adrian Dannatt investigates his talent and tragedy). The feature appeared on pages 34 – 37 and its title referenced a particular Basquiat painting titled Mad, 1987, signed with artist’s initials ‘JMB’ acrylic and oil stick on canvas, 86 x 68 inches,. Estimate $1,500,00 – 2,000,000 (£950,000 – 1,250,000. The magazine offered the following outline on Dannatt, on its Contributors page.  “Adrian Dannatt has organised exhibitions at venues ranging from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Price Tower in Oklahoma to Paul Kasmin Gallery in New York. His own work has been shown at institutions varied as the Whitworth Gallery, Manchester and Deitch Projects in SoHo. He was New York columnist for The Art Newspaper before moving to Paris.

Wrote Dannatt,

“Having lent his apartment to Jean-Michel Basquiat, a friend was horrified to come back to Manhattan to discover not a cache of drug paraphernalia or a cabal of squatters, but to find that the artist had covered every inch of his fridge with an elaborate and brilliantly hued painting. He was furious and screamed at Basquiat: “Get that cleaned off immediately! I’m giving you until tonight to get every bit of it off my fridge!” Thereupon the artist obediently set to work scrubbing away on his knees, removing all evidence of his art and every trace of our friend’s potential retirement fund, wiping out perhaps a million dollars.

If elements of Basquiat’s life story have become exaggerated in the telling, the mythology remains that of any truly major artist. Here is the perfect curve of precocious career and premature eclipse, the suffering and celebrity, poverty and prosperity, the early death, the trajectory from anonymous graffiti artist to the most famous painter of his generation.”

There then followed a appraisal of Basquiat’s life and work, before returning to a discussion of the Mad painting. “Mad is a striking, shockingly simple work of art, the clarity and balance of the composition, that one word and that one head with its dextrous clench of anger, is the summation of an entire aesthetic and tragically, of an entire life.”

Related items

click to show details of It’s a mad world - Jean-Michel Basquiat

»  It’s a mad world - Jean-Michel Basquiat

Article relating to an individual, 2012