Jean-Michel Basquiat

Jean-Michel Basquiat (b. 1960) was an artist as intrigued about the internal workings of subjects as the actual aesthetic of the subjects themselves. The Neo-Expressionist artist who rose to mainstream and critical acclaim in the 1980s, broke through the larger white-male dominated landscape of contemporary art by showcasing raw depictions of a range of subject that seemingly peeled back the broader pictorial plane to showcase the unhindered, and in many ways brutalist depictions of the exterior world at large. A large part of Basquiat's fascination with individual parts or segments of subject can be attributed to his mother's influence on the artist. While Basquiat was in the hospital following a childhood car accident, Basquiat's mother had given him a copy of Gray's Anatomy.  This book not only helped the young artist to understand his own body as it healed but gave him a life-long fascination with anatomical structure- skulls, muscles, the nervous system, and the breakdown of skeletal grin which has become a touchstone of his oeuvre. Whereas Warhol's work largely became a shrine to subject, a shifting of variables to conquer the prime coloring and layout of pop subjects, Basquiat's subsequent work in contrast, became a reduction and breakdown of form to raw elements of structure. Gestural exuberance jostles with diagrammatic line, and in direct contradiction to Warhol, simultaneously illustrates the sacred as well as the profane.