The Untitled (skull), 1984 in addition to the Exhibition Highlights at the Brooklyn Museum in which contains three paintings, Untitled, 1982, In Italian,1983 and Flexible, 1984, represent Jean-Michel Basquiat’s best work. They have style and are not as incomplete or fragmented as some of the others in Basquiat’s collection. The above four paintings give you a good idea what Basquiat was going for and unites his different works of art. Basquiat’s unique style is what makes his work stand out. However, his sudden death, the tragedy of his life, has appeared to outshine his artistic body of work.
John Seed’s essay, A Failure to Feel: How Critic Robert Hughes Stands in a Cultural Blind Spot in Relation to the Work of Jean-Michel Basquiat, is direct and offers clear points about Basquiat, the critic Robert Hughes and the critic Phoebe Hoban. Seed goes to the extent and outlines some of the cultural differences between Basquiat, Hughes and himself. While many people may feel that artists or the person being criticized for their accomplishments verses their race and/or ethnicity, Seed’s reason for this really has to do with Basquiat. Basquiat’s work depicts cultural influences as well as speaks out on cultures that seem to have “cultural blind spots”. So to say that Seed should not bring race and ethnicity into his criticisms is like saying Basquiat should have left his cultural slanders out of his work. But as many recognize, culture and environment have influences on people and their works. And for this reason, I agree with the statement that Basquiat can be considered similar to a “Black Picasso”. Basquiat’s work is abstract and yet as a man who was considered by popular culture as a minority, Basquiat was able to stand up and offer his work to the public. This strong confident characteristic of his is one of the reasons why so many interracial people ‘˜get’ his work. Not to mention, Basquiat was a rising artist during a time where popular culture was booming. Artists were expressing themselves in new found light and the idea of an interracial man expressing himself was even more of a reason for popular culture to love Basquiat.
In addition, Hughes can be viewed as a critic with a “cultural blind spot”, however, his statement, “The only thing the market liked better than a hot young artist was a dead hot young artist”, couldn’t have been more true. Basquiat struck me as an artist whose work was evolving. To die tragically at a young age makes many people feel as if that person had more to offer and was cut short. Often times, this feeling amplifies the fame of the artist. In some ways I believe this to be true for Jean-Michel Basquiat.
In conclusion, I do like a few of Basquiat’s works and enjoy his sense of confidence in presenting an abstract and unique style to popular culture that confused many. Basquiat’s lack of symmetry and dimension in many of his works sets him aside from other figures of his time, such as Andy Warhol for example. It did take until I observed the four above-mentioned paintings though, to ‘˜get’ Basquiat and his work as well as to acquire a taste for it.