Royalty, Heroism And The Streets In Basquait Artworks

In his artworks, Baquait depicts issues of society and identity. He was of Haitian and Puerto Rican descent he would depict subject matter which affected him. Basquiat said that his works subject matter was 'royalty, heroism and the streets'.

The artist’s culture, education, life experiences, travel and especially influences from other artists who came before them.

Basquait was influenced by a medical encyclopedia that he explored in his artworks, as he often drew skulls, bones and bodies in his artworks. He was also influenced by other artists, such as Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol. He would take inspiration from what he saw and heard around him, as he used text in artworks which he had heard on TV or read. He also drew things which he saw on TV, in comics and books and implemented them in his art.

He was also influenced by music, in the early 1980s, he had his own band called Gray. He had jazz music playing while he created his artworks, he depicted this in artworks such as King Zulu (1986). Basquiat would put sound and visuals which he saw and recontextualised in his artwork, he often put text in artworks that he heard on T.V, in music or from someone else.

Discuss the ways in which artworks reflect the artistic, environmental, economic, social, technological, political or religious climate of the time that may have influenced the artist in making the artworks you are referring to in your discussion. The time and place that the artist created the artwork.

Basquiat was from Brooklyn in New York and the majority of his artworks were made in the 1980s. He was of African-American descent, he felt that African-Americans were not depicted in art, which prompted him to create artworks depicted his culture in the way which he saw. He was a graffiti artist which is shown through the crown symbol he often uses in his artwork, it is used like a graffiti tag. And during this time pop art was popular and he was inspired by pop artists such as Andy Warhol.

Politically Baquait wanted to create change, he was the first African-American artist to have attention from the world. And he felt that there were issues of racism in America, and addressed them in his artworks such as untilted (skull 1981)

Basquiat used found objects to create artworks, such as pieces of wood. The materials which he primarily used were oil sticks, crayons, spraypaint and pencils. He applies his materials in a chaotic style, he often has visible paint strokes and leaves parts of the canvas white.

His work Untitled 1981 was sprayed painted onto foam as he could not afford canvas, he also used floors and walls. He would have created his artworks by working on layers in the background, as in his artworks there is often visible colours and mediums which overlap. And then he would have used paint to create figures, add text or detail to his artworks.

For example,” There are several key focal points in the artwork that are emphasised by the artist’s use of tone, such as in the faces of the people in the artwork. This accentuates the frightened expressions on their faces, thereby creating a sense of desperation. This dramatic use of tone is characteristic in the style of Romanticism

Basquiat often uses colour, in his artwork Untilted (fishing)(1981) he creates movement and emphasis in his artwork, he does this by using colour in the background of the work. He uses a variety of bright colours which have been painted with visible brushstrokes that are chaotic and allow the viewer to attention to be focused on the figure. For the figure Basquait has used darker colours which creates an emphasis on it, he has also used primarily line to paint the figure. And unlike the background, the figure does not have visible brushstrokes, and the lines used to move towards and in the figure. He also uses the lines at the top of the artwork to create a movement to the centre of the artwork.

Basquiat’s artwork Skull (1981) uses primarily line, he creates a head uses dark thick lines which create an emphasis, as there is a contrast between the light colours used unevenly in the background. He used light colours in the middle of the artwork Compared to the dark figure in the artwork, this also draws the view towards the centre of the artwork.

Referencing each artwork, explain how the artist’s application of materials and techniques relates to broad traditional styles or movements of art-making, as well as to the personal or individual style of the artist.

Basquiat was a neo-expressionist, his artworks portrayed objects such as human figures in an abstract style. He applied his materials in a chaotic style and

Basquiat often communicated his heritage in his artwork, he uses a crown symbol. He used it to portray himself as a king, as in western culture he feels his heritage is depicted poorly,

In his artwork Untilted (skull) 1981, he communicates ideas identity. The face appropriates an African face mask, which connects to his Haitian culture. At the time of creating the artwork, he was becoming popular in the art community, and the artwork was in his first solo exhibition. And so he communicates how he felt about this, the face is shown from the outside but he also shows parts of the face from the perspective of the inside, which is he did regularly in his artwork. He often displayed a figure with visible bones to represent identity. 

07 July 2022
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