(Jean-Michel Basquiat- Untitled- 1984)

Between having discussions about post-modern visual artists whose cultural influences are present in their work, through to seeing the Angelheaded Hipsters exhibition at The National theatre this week, Mr Basquiat has come up a fair bit recently. I was familiar with his story, which follows the tragic celebrity blueprint of:  Child genius, turned tortured artist, turned junkie, turned creative anti-hero, but less so about his actual art.

There’s a fine line between madness and greatness. I’m inclined to think they come hand in hand, but whether Basquiat’s works are the manifestations of  visionary genius, or the abandoned, child- like scrawlings of an unstable mind, I guess is up for debate. Maybe it’s neither. Maybe it’s both.   Categories aside, after looking things up on the interwebz, his works are certainly brimming with emotion, even if in that clichéd, ‘woe is the world, I bleed paint onto a canvasses’ sort of way.  Basquait’s cultural significance is pretty undeniable given he was part of a post-punk middle finger to the system renaissance of the 80s. You can see the influence (albeit less pastiche) in Chris Ofilli’s early works, also.

Check out the below film snippet from the 2010 film ‘ Jean- Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child (I neeeeeed a copy of this if anyone has one thanksandplease).

More from Basquiat:


(Untitled Skull, 1984)


(Mater ,1982)


(Tenor, 1985)


You can catch a glimpse of Basquiat at the AngelHeaded Hipsters Exhibition (till 20th March 2011) at The National theatre, alongside candid photography of other  writers and visionaries of the time including Warhol, Jack Kerouac , Madonna and William Burroughs.


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