Jean Michel Basquiat Style

  1. Jean-michel Basquiat Style Of Art
  2. What Was Jean Michel Basquiat Style
  3. Jean-michel Basquiat Style Of Painting

The Arts Those familiar with Jean-Michel Basquiat shouldn't be surprised that the gone-too-soon graffiti-cum-Neo-expressionist used boxers as a recurring theme. Born in Brooklyn to Haitian and Puerto Rican parents, Basquiat grew up on the hardscrabble streets of New York City where he confronted racism and learned firsthand the realities of the socio-economic struggle of the working class. How Jean-Michel Basquiat Inspired This Season’s Look Basquiat’s style was equal parts classical and street. Here’s how the artist who blew away Warhol and seduced Madonna did it. Brooklyn-born painter Jean-Michel Basquiat was one of the most acclaimed contemporary artists of his generation. The young, Black American’s graffiti-inspired works show evidence of his intelligence via a powerful combination of lively imagery and poetic text.

Jean Michel Basquiat’s style is radically different from other fine artists. His style is so unique is because he pulls from a diverse range of influences.

Here are some examples to prove my point. Have you ever seen work like this?

Image: Untitled (1982), Jean Michel Basquiat

Image: Cabeza, Jean Michel Basquiat

Image: Ashes, Jean Michel Basquiat

What Influences Basquiat’s Work?

I wanted to better understand Basquiat’s complicated aesthetic, so I watched his documentary, The Radiant Child. Through this film, I understood the inner workings of Basquiat’s mind.

Through the documentary, I learned that his unique style comes from referencing things other fine artists don’t even think about. For example, he references Skelly Court (Children’s game), Joe Louis (Boxer), Hobo signs, Charlie Parker (Jazz musician), Batman and Aztec art. However, there are five recurring influences that Basquiat often uses in his artistic direction.

1. Human Anatomy

Basquiat often refers to human anatomy in his paintings, depicting parts of the body and listing their components. This is due to his first and most vivid childhood memory, getting his by a car. While this is probably one of the worst first childhood memories a person could have, it was a formative experience that allowed him to create visually striking artwork.

When he was hospitalized, doctors had to remove his spleen. In recovery, his mother gave him a copy of Gray’s Anatomy, a textbook of human anatomy. He studied the book and its illustrations. This book stuck with him so well, that it influenced his work in adulthood.

Here is an example of his paintings using human anatomy.

Image: Untitled (Anatomy), Jean Michel Basquiat

2. The Experience of Being Black

When he was still alive, he was often the centre of attention at parties and high-profile events. He was (and still is) a well known and respected artist. However, he was still a black man in America. He often received racist remarks; people disregarded his art and labeled his work as ‘primitive’. In his everyday life, he was the victim of racial profiling; taxi cabs wouldn’t stop for him often as they saw Basquiat as black and therefore racially profiled him as dangerous).

Police brutality

Basquiat often commented on issues facing African-American people such as police brutality. This theme is explored often in his work, but his most personal piece on the subject is a painting called The Beating of Michael Stuart (below).

Image: The Beating of Michael Stuart, Jean Michel Basquiat

Michael Stuart was a soft-natured African-American graffiti artist. In a lot of ways, Basquiat was just like Michael Stewart. Both were soft-natured. Also, Basquiat was once a graffiti artist before he entered the fine art scene.

Michael Stewart was beaten to death while on a train with his mother. His death haunted Basquiat; he knew it could have too easily been him whose life was taken. The emotional toll as a result of the killing drove Basquiat to create this painting.

Out of all of Basquiat’s work, I find The Beating of Michael Stuart his most powerful and interesting piece. I think it’s because of the visual elements used. Michael Stewart, the victim of police brutality, is portrayed as the most human out of the three human subjects. His silhouette has a very human shape. On the other hand, the police do not have the same human form. Instead of looking like people, they are painted as menacing rectangular figures with sharp teeth. To show their lack of humanity, he portrays them as less human.

The silhouette of Michael Stuart is also important as is shows how he is viewed by the police. Michael Stuart’s depiction has no other features other that his black colour. This is how police viewed Michael Stuart, they only saw him as black and judged him only by his colour.

Also, a smaller detail is that there are graffiti tags on the painting. This is added as Michael Stuart was a graffiti artist.

Black History

Basquiat is also influenced by black history. He references events such as slavery and the Jim Crow era. He also references black figures such as Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali and Charlie Parker.

3. His Upbringing

One of Basquiat’s friends described his upbringing as “…superior to the average child”. This is partially due to his multilingual childhood; aside from English, Basquiat spoke Spanish, French and Creole. Damn, and here I am struggling to write this blog post in the only language I know.

According to the documentary, the highest regarded artists always speak more than one language; Picasso spoke French, Catalan and Spanish.

Words in different languages are a recurring element to Basquiat’s paintings.Surfshark on laptop.

“Sangre” is a word shown on this painting (below). In Spanish, ‘sangre’ means ‘blood’. (I know this because I speak fluent Google Translate!)

Image: In Italian, Jean Michel Basquiat

4. Other Artists

Basquiat often referenced other artists such as Da Vinci, Van Gogh and Picasso. He often included them in his paintings. Below is an example of Basquiat referencing Vincent Van Gogh.

Image: Two Wax Figures of Vincent Van Gogh, Jean Michel Basquiat

5. Bebop

Bebop is a style of jazz which was made in the 1940’s. Bebop has a large influence on Basquiat’s work as it was his favourite genre of music. In many ways, Basquiat’s work is the Bebop music style adapted to a visual art-form. Bebop is recognized by quick tempos and rapidly changing and complex chord progressions. The same feel is created visually with Basquiat’s work having energetic, unpredictable, rapidly changing visual elements.

Final Thoughts

Basquiat has such a unique style because he pulls from a diverse range of influences. In the documentary, one of Basquiat’s friends stated, “He had this unique ability to access everything that was in his mind and memory bank… and put it on the canvas”. He often reflects on childhood and life experiences, history, artists (both traditional and non-traditional) music and foreign languages. This diversity in influences creates a style that is uncommon and individualistic. By referencing a little bit of everything, you can’t recognize what his main influences are. Basquiat combines many defining elements of who he is, resulting in an aesthetic that is truly his own.

What is your favourite Basquiat artwork? Did I miss anything important? Let me know in the comments below 🙂

The art of Jean-Michel Basquiat will be celebrated next year in an exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. As La Pressereports, the exhibit was initially set to run from October 2021 until February 2022 but was delayed because of the ongoing pandemic.

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Quebec Minister of Culture and Communications Natalie Roy announced that the museum has received a $550,000 grant. The exhibition is a co-production with Philharmonie de Paris’s Musée de la Musique. Aside from his physical art, the exhibit will also highlight Basquiat’s career as a musician.

This is not the first Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibition to make its way to Canada. The Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto mounted a Basquiat exhibition from February to May 2015, which was guest-curated by Dieter Buchhart.

Jean-michel Basquiat Style Of Art

Basquiat is considered one of the most important artists in the neo-expressionism movement. The New York artist was born in 1960 and passed away in 1988 of a heroin overdose. His work continues to inspire generations that followed. His influence can be seen everywhere from the Brooklyn Nets’ current alternative jerseys to a multitude of Jay-Z lyrics.

What Was Jean Michel Basquiat Style

For more about the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, please visit their website.

Jean-michel Basquiat Style Of Painting

For more Montreal arts coverage, please visit the Arts & Life section.