A big theme in Basquiat’s work was his heroes: Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, Hank Aaron, Jackie Robinson, Muhammed Ali, Joe Frazier, Sugar Ray Robinson, Joe Louis, and more.
In Widow Basquiat, Suzanne says:
“His paintings were inspired by the jazz musicians and he felt akin to them. A lot of the early jazz artists, of course, couldn’t even walk through the front door of the hotels and clubs they were playing in and had to enter through back doors and kitchens, and I think Jean felt this was a metaphor for his place in the white art world: he had entered through the back door. He broke into the white art world in a way that had never been done before by a black.”
And: “Everything he (Jean-Michel Basquiat) did was an attack on racism and I love him for this.”
Basquiat’s painting Defacement is a depiction of fellow artist Michael Stewart being beaten to death by New York City police in September 1983.
In 1986 Basquiat was interviewed and asked “How do you work?” He replied “I start a picture and I finish it. I don’t think about art while I work. I try to think about life.”
At the end of the interview, the interviewer asked to come to NY before writing about him. Basquiat asked “What would you do if you were writing about a dead artist?” She says, “I would do as much as research as possible, to get all of the available information. “Then do it that way,” he said. “Just pretend I was dead.”
I think these self portraits of Basquiat are so powerful. One of the things they make me think of though is his drug use, like a dark cloud over him that he just couldn’t shake.
I like how Basquiat’s pieces are like getting glimpse into his private notebook/brain, how it’s like notes taken with associations & connections made.
“He could make 20 paintings in three weeks. ... He would have source books open, the TV on, music playing, and working on several canvases at once.” “...was never tired. He had unending energy, partly drug fuelled.” ––Boom For Real
This week I finished up four paintings...
and got started on the Basquiat activity book for Patreon subscribers.