Joel Basquiat Portrait2



Joel Garten is an artist and a composer of art music.  As an artist, Garten works in an intense, energetic style that is influenced by abstract expressionism.  His work is noted for its passionate, immediate approach and for its vibrant, lyrical use of color.

Garten, in music as well as art, is largely self taught.  He gave himself an extensive education in art history by visiting dozens of museums in more than 40 countries around the world, gaining influence from such diverse sources as Clyfford Still, Jackson Pollock,  Japanese pottery, Islamic caligraphy, Cy Twombley, Matisse, Arshile Gorky and Neolithic cave paintings.

A pivotal moment in Garten’s development as an artist occurred when he began to study the works of Jean-Michel Basquiat.  Garten was inspired by Basquiat’s energetic hand and use of  color, and as well adopted one of  Basquiat’s preferred mediums: the oil stick.  Oil sticks are oil paint prepared in stick format.  They create pigment-dense colours which can be applied in a free, flowing way.  The medium lent itself well to the immediacy of Garten’s approach to painting.

Garten’s career as a composer, improviser and pianist is also influential in his art.  Just as he improvises on the piano with two hands, he often uses both hands to paint, sometimes at the same time.  Likewise, his paintings are improvisational, created in and of the moment, and created with a very intuitive approach.

“I find inspiration in the primal forms of painting, and the primal expression created through my work.” says Garten,  “I love beauty.  I love to see the way energy flows through the compositions in my paintings.  My best works sits at a junction between intense creation of the line and quite contemplation of the composition.  My work always feels fresh and alive to me, I hope you can share that feeling.”


An impassioned musician becomes and impassioned artist


For twenty years, composer Joel Garten has been wowing audiences with his free-jazz inflected piano improvisations that bridge the gap between modern classical music and experimental jazz.  Now he is taking on the art world, with a show of his vibrant, energetic new artworks at New York City’s Architectural Digest Show, sponsored by the New York Times, which takes place March 21 to 24, 2013.

Garten’s artwork, like his passionate music, comes from an improvisational point of view. He paints with bold, flowing lines vibrant with color, which, like music, seem to flow and vibrate with each other.


His music as well as his paintings are inspired and influenced by abstract expressionism, including artists such as Jackson Pollock, Clyfford Still, Mark Rothko, Richard Diebenkorn, as well as Cy Twombley.

Garten has an encyclopedic knowledge of art from a vast number of styles, regions and periods, having obsessively visited museums in more than 40 countries.

He often paints with both hands, sometimes both at the same time, a technique directly influenced by playing the piano, like the right and left hand parts of a piece of music.


As an artist, Garten was deeply influenced by the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat. “I saw a photo of a painting by Basquiat that was to be auctioned by Christies. Looking at the painting, II started to feel energy flowing through my arms, and the next day I looked at the painting again and I became immensely inspired and energetic. I saw so much energy and vibration coursing through the painting, so much intensity. This lead to an hour long piano improvisation inspired by the Basquiat work. I then went on to create a vast series of visual artworks that flowed from that inspiration. Meanwhile, the Basquiat ended up selling for $16 million.”


“My music, like my art, is my own personal creation.” says Garten, “I value an intimately personal and intuitive approach to creation. My work comes from a primal source, like neolithic cave paintings. As well, my music is just as much art as my paintings. It is Art Music.”


Garten says, “A vital point to my work in music and art is a sense of flow. My art and music are not created with some greater structure or program imposed or preconceived, rather the they grow organically from moment to moment. In fact, what I really feel when I play music or paint is a sense of flow, like the piece itself is leading me on and telling me exactly what to do. The sense of flow means everything progresses at its own pace, and there is only a minimal amount of conscious intervention from me. The music and art in a sense creates itself naturally as I work.”

Garten’s work is direct and not contrived. It is unabashedly beautiful, original and effervescent. Like the abstract expressionists, he feels his music and paintings tap into the sublime. His work derives from a primal source.


The Architectural Digest Show is located in New York City on Manhattan’s Pier 94, and brings in an audience of more than 44000 people, from the art and design trade as well as upscale consumers.


Garten’s solo exhibition of works at the show is in the prestigious “MADE” section, which features independent artists and designers. His booth is M89.


BORN, 1981, Toronto, Canada, based. Artist and composer, as well as writer and entrepreneur.