Friday, January 24, 2020

Looking at Life though “Basquiat-isms”.

September 26, 2019 by  
Filed under Book Club/Book Reviews, News, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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“The Black person is the protagonist in most of my paintings. I realized that I didn’t see many paintings with black people in them.”

Jean-Michel Basquiat was a leading force in American art. His emergence form graffiti in New York to art galleries is a tale of urban enlightenment through art. He merged so many different concepts in his painting such as poetry and hip-hop. He was ahead of his time, and on time, all at once. As one who expressed social commentary on race, the struggle of class, and the issues of the power structure through paint one can only wonder what his words would have been on the same subjects, and more if he had chosen to be a writer. He incorporated the use of words in many of his paintings. “A poet as well as an artist, words featured heavily in his drawings and paintings, with direct references to racism, slavery, the people and street scene of 1980s New York including other artists ad black historical figures, musicians and sports starts as his notebooks and many important drawings demonstrate.” His -isms give insight into the mind of an artist that took in everything around him as influence.

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“If you want to talk about influence, man, then you’ve got to realize that influence is not influence. It’s simply someone’s idea going through my new mind.”

Basquiat-isms by Jean-Michel Basquiat is a collection of his sayings and ideas taken from various conversations based on four specific areas; the book is broken into these four sections. The saying, though they may seem random, weave together well to give the reader great insight into the artist as an individual.  It’s a small book, but it is packed with lots of ideas and wisdom that can be applied to many different areas. Once can be left to wonder Basquiat would have evolved on these thoughts had he lived longer. Unfortunately, Basquiat left this earth at the young age of twenty-seven but the magnitude of his work lives on, and the impact he left upon the art world.

“You like to be called the “Black Picasso”? Not so much It’s flattering, but I think it’s also demeaning.”

This book is a good addition to one’s library especially when they want to reference words from a black artist on the concepts surrounding being black, an artist, and what that representation means to black people. It’s also a thought provoking read if one is seeking to read casually. If you know someone that is an aspiring artist this would be a great way to share Basquiat with them, or introduce him, as the book is solely him. The book was edited by Larry Warsh who did a wonderful job of not jading the Basquiat by cherry picking commentary that didn’t touch on heavy subjects such as race. Warsh compiled a well-rounded selection of Basquiat words so that the reader can better understand this artist in totality.

You can find this book on Amazon and anywhere book are sold.

“If I didn’t paint, I’d be directing movies, I guess. Ones in which black people are portrayed as being people of the human race. And not aliens and not all negative and not all thieves and drug dealers and the whole bit. Just real stories.”

Staff Writer; Christian Starr

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