New York 1977-1983: back to the underground

On the occasion of the opening of the exhibition Jean-Michel Basquiat, at the Vuitton Foundation, Juke-Box takes up residence in New York at the turn of the 1970s-1980s, in the heart of the Lower East Side.

In a city on the verge of bankruptcy, southern Manhattan is experiencing a dizzying cultural turmoil. While the nightclubs are opening up, the disco scene is at its peak, hip-hop rumbles its first beats, the sophisticated circles of Soho and Tribeca pride themselves on angry and noisy music scene who, by wishing to make a clean sweep of rock, sends back the nascent New wave and early punk to children’s music. This ephemeral and crazy scene that irrigates clubs and art galleries will be called the “No Wave”.

In this story we will come across a perilous alphabet, an abandoned synagogue, baseball bats in delicate hands and a graffiti artist in a long gray coat.

Concert of James Chance and Teenage Jesus & The Jerks in 1977 in New York. The group also includes performer Lydia Lunch, who is off-screen.

Credits: Roberta Bailey / Redferns


The exhibition Jean-Michel Basquiat is on view until January 14, 2019 at the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris.


  • Archive INA : New-York seen by the Magnetic Nights of France Culture, September 12, 1979
  • Mars : 3e, from the album 3E / 11 000 Volts (Ze Records, 1978) – background sound –
  • Talking Heads : Found a job, from the album More Songs about Buildings and Food (1978)
  • Suicide : Cheree, eponymous album (Bronze Records, 1977) – background sound –
  • Teenage Jesus and the Jerks : The Closet, from the album No New-York (1978)
  • Dark Day : Arp’s carpet, from the album Exterminating Angel (1980) – background sound –
  • Lydia Lunch : Mechanical Flattery, from the album Queen of Siam (Ze Records, 1980)
  • Excerpt from the film Downtown 81, by Edo Bertoglio (2001)
  • Bush Tetras : You can’t be funky, from the album Boom in the Night (1980)
  • Lizzy Mercier-Descloux : Fire, from the album Press Color (Ze Records, 1979)
  • The Lounge Lizards : Fatty Walks, from the eponymous album (1981) – background sound –
  • James Chance & The Contortions : Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough, from the album Live at Bains Douches (Buda Music, 1980)
  • Conc : Elephant, compilation The Sound of Konk (Tales of New York Underground 1981-1988) (2004) – background sound –
  • Loose Joints : Is It All Over My Face (1980)
  • The Del-Byzanteens : Girl’s Imagination, from the album Lies to Live By (1982)
  • INA Archive: Interview with Jean-Michel Basquiat by Marc Miller (undated) aired in the show Off fields by Laure Adler on France Culture
  • Gray : I Wanna Go Back (1980)
  • The Rammellzee vs K. Rob : Beat bop (1983) from the soundtrack of the film Dowtown 81, in the album New York Noise (2003)
  • ESG : UFO, eponymous album (1980) – background sound –
  • ESG : The beat, from the album Come away (1983)
  • Sonic Youth : Making the Nature Scene, from the album Confusion is sex (1983) – background sound –
  • James White and the Blacks : Sax Maniac, from the album Sax Maniac (1982)

Downtown 81 by Edo Bertoglio, in full version on YouTube, with Jean-Michel Basquiat and many personalities from Village then. Filmed in New York during the winter of 1980-81, it would only be released in 2001 in the United States and France and in very few theaters. In the credits of the soundtrack: Blondie, John Lurie, Kid Creole & the Coconuts, Tuxedomoon…

Takeaway playlist

By clicking on “Add to” … (top left) you can retrieve all or part of this show’s playlist on Spotify, Apple, iTunes or Youtube.

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