Sunday, 23 August 2009

Jean-Michel Basquiat

Although, I do appreciate the skills of conventional artists, none of them have raised a real passion in me. I have found Basquiat’s paintings so forceful, and each time I have returned to look at one of them my ideas have changed as my understanding of him as a person, and the image he was trying to portray in the specific painting, grew.

I like Basquiat’s use of text in the majority of his paintings as it gives an added insight into the message that he was trying to give out. I find the text very powerful. It draws people to, and almost into, the painting. Individuals stop to read the text before they actually look at the painting and it conditions them to view the painting in the way the artist wants. I find this manner of influencig people’s appreciation of a painting very effective.

When Basquiat was seven years old, he was run over by a car, and while recovering in hospital his mother gave him ‘Grays Anatomy’, a book which clearly had an influence on many of his later paintings. Anatiomy is a recurring theme in the form of skeletons and internal organs in Basquait’s art.

One of the dominant themes through Basquiat’s art is anger. In an interview with Henry Geldzahler for interview magazine in January 1983, Geldzahler asked: ‘Was it anger? Is ther anger in your work?’ where Basquiat replied, ‘It is about 80% anger.’

I believe Basquiat was replacing his early searches for a religion/meaning of life with a more political, black power/ anti-racist philosophy and this copyright was an overt statement of admiration for black sportsmen. The crown is another feature that Basquiat includes in many of his paintings and represents his admiration and pride of black athletes.

Crown Hotel is one of Basquiat’s more complex paintings. The painting displays great anger against the modern world and also against traditional artists, and hence his depiction of the Mona Lisa. For me this is a classic Basquait painitng, an overt expression of his feelings of anger, anti-racism, black pride, financial insecurity and dislike of materialism. It is impossible to understand, even with an explanation behind it, and there is more to discover each time I look at it.

Basquiat was painting at a time of very well-known artists such as Lichtenstein and Warhol, but he persevered despite enormous poverty and an unprivileged background. His upbringing led to his original style of painting which became very popular. Through his determination he managed to become top of his profession and ended up being purchased by the very wealthy people that he mocked in his paintings for their materialism.

1 comment:

  1. The connection between Basquiat's accident and the theme of anatomy in his work is very interesting. The skeletal pieces have great energy and intensity, and reminds me of a scene from a cartoon, like Tom and Jerry where one of them always get electrocuted!