Jean-Michel Basquiat (American, 1960–1988)
Oil, oil stick, and acrylic on canvas
66 x 60 inches
Purchase in honor of Lynne Browne, President of the Members Guild, 1992–1993, with funds from Alfred Austell Thornton in memory of Leila Austell Thornton and Albert Edward Thornton., Sr., and Sarah Miller Venable and William Hoyt Venable
Currently not on view
Jean Michel Basquiat began his short but prolific career as a graffiti artist in the streets of New York. He adopted a deliberately street smart and seemingly naïve style, yet his art also contained sophisticated references to contemporary culture and art history. Basquiat drew his cryptic visual vocabulary from numerous sources ranging from ancient Egyptian art to books to the symbols of the Depression-era hobo code. Images of the Sacred Heart, a Catholic symbol of pain and suffering, symbolize personal anguish and the artist’s Haitian heritage. Basquiat continually juxtaposed such emblems in different combinations as if they were phrases of a personal language, like a visual diary.