Crossed Out

jean-michel basquiat

Detail of Basquiat’s text-filled “Museum Security (Broadway Meltdown),” from 1983, acrylic, oilstick and paper collage on canvas. Credit The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Licensed by Artestar, New York; via The Brant Foundation; Charlie Rubin for The New York Times.

[The Brant Foundation Art Study Center in the East Village, New York City, opens with an exhibition of nearly 70 works by Jean-Michel Basquiat created from 1980 to 1987.]

Other paintings pay homage to jazz greats like Miles Davis and Charlie Parker (Basquiat worked in a similarly improvisatory way) and handwritten text appears everywhere. Basquiat favored the cutup technique of the Beat writer William Burroughs but he also witnessed the rise of rap and hip-hop music. His words feel eerily poignant today: “debt shrine,” “per capita,” “Hooverville,” “perishable,” “black teeth,” “immortality.” … Crossed-out words also recur in his paintings and are weirdly reminiscent of the bracketing or slashing of text in deconstructionist philosophy, to emphasize the cultural and biased nature of language. Funny to realize in retrospect that Basquiat and the French philosopher Jacques Derrida were on the same page.

(Martha Schwendener, “‘Jean-Michel Basquiat’ at the Brant Shows His Bifurcated Life,” NYTimes, 3-5-19)

(c) 2019 JMN.

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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