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#BasquiatAGO: Get involved by #crowningheroes on Instagram

March 2nd, 2015

We’re excited to announce a city-wide Instagram program celebrating the exhibition Jean-Michel Basquiat: Now’s the Time.

Basquiat’s groundbreaking and provocative artistic approach translated 1980s New York into a radical visual language, one that gave voice to issues of racism, class struggle, social hypocrisy and black history. Inspired as much by high art as by hip hop, jazz, sports, comics and graffiti, Basquiat used recurring motifs to explore issues that he grappled with in his own life and witnessed in the world around him.

The crown was one of these motifs. It appears on a variety of figures including renowned jazz musicians, such as Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie; celebrated athletes, including Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson, Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) and Hank Aaron; and even his contemporaries, such as graffiti artist Michael Stewart. Basquiat used crowns, as well as halos, to recognize and celebrate his icons.

We’ve gathered together some of Toronto’s most influential and artistic Instagrammers to provide some #crowningheroes inspiration, and we hope you’ll join them.

Want to take part?

There are a few ways to participate:

  • Each week from March 2 to April 5 a giant yellow neon crown will pop-up in a different neighbourhood. Our Instagram team, as well as the @agotoronto account, will post pictures of the locations. Find and photograph one of our “pop-up” neon Basquiat crowns (follow our influencers to figure out the locations) and share it using #BasquiatAGO and #crowningheroes;
  • Do you see a crown in every day shapes? A picket fence perhaps? Capture it and share it using #BasquiatAGO and #crowningheroes; or
  • Take a picture of someone or something that is a hero to you. You mother, teacher, maybe even your neighbourhood. Capture it and tell your story using #BasquiatAGO and #crowningheroes.

Want to win?

As well as being part of this city-wide art project there are also a few things you can win along the way:

Post a photo of any of the above and the image with the most likes within seven days wins a pair of tickets to the Jean-Michel Basquiat: Now’s the Time exhibition. (In case you’re wondering, members of our Instagram team are not eligible.)

At the end of our program one user will win the giant yellow neon crown! This prize is open to anyone who participates in the #BasquiatAGO and #crowningheroes and does not have to be a photo of the neon crown. The winner will be based on most engagement with a combination of likes and comments as determined by TOTEMS/Analytics (and, again, our Instagrammers are not eligible).

Who are our Instagrammers?

We’ll be regramming a lot of their posts along the way, but if you want to get connected and inspired directly here is a list of who’s on board:


Please consult the TERMS & CONDITIONS for more contest details.

Jean-Michel Basquiat: Now’s the Time runs until May 10, 2015. Don’t miss your chance to see Canada’s first large-scale exhibition of Basquiat’s groundbreaking works.

We’re open late on Friday evenings in February! Visit for details.

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