Untitled (Skull) By: Jean-Michel Basquiat Taken from: http://africanartists.blogspot.com/2008/08/jean-michel-basquiat_11.html
It was sometime in 2007 when I first saw a painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat. It was an instant love and an instant curiosity. The magnetism of his work sucked me in and I had to know more work, more Basquiat. I bought the movie, not entirely knowing what to expect, but hey, it was on sale (thanks, Amazon.com). It was amazing. Not just the fact that Gary Oldman and David Bowie (who made a great Warhol, if you ask me) were in the movie, but the story of Jean-Michel was beautiful. I started to grow a bit of an obsession.
He was just some high-school-dropout-homeless-guy that wrote graffiti around New York City, under the signature SAMO (technically, it was a collaboration between Basquiat and his friend Al Diaz), which meant "same old shit". Then he became huge. First painter of African descent to reach international art star level huge. Basquiat seemed to almost hold that "The American Dream" status for me. Going from nothing to a hugely successful artist. Maybe that's what draws me in. Or, what draws me in more now. I was already intrigued before knowing his background. What about this specific piece though? What draws me in? I could research deeply into his paintings, but I feel like it's not supposed to be researched deeply. All that will end up happening is over thinking, over analyzing, pulling my hair out trying to figure out why this why that why blah blah blah. I have a basic idea of who Basquiat was. Why not just go from there?
So I guess this is when I get to what this painting means to me, not just the entity and idea of Jean-Michel Basquiat. This painting is beauty. It's got this feeling of decay to it. Primitive and simple, but still a powerful image. It's got an eerie vibe, even with the brighter colors used in it. It's this decay, beauty, creation thing I see. It's beautiful with it's simplicity. The decay just adds to the beauty, but it also gives it a primitive feel. With how patchy it looks, it reminds me of creation, in the sense of Frankenstein's monster. It sticks with me. That's why I chose it. I don't have any deep and prophetic theory for the painting. I have some ideas of why I like it. It means something to me.
I love Basquiat. A lot. And here's a fun cameo of him in Blondie's "Rapture" (he was a replacement for DJ Grandmaster Flash since he didn't show up).