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Jean-Michel Basquiat Untitled, 1983

Untitled

Artwork Factory

Jean-Michel Basquiat combined symbols, words, letters and drawings in his picture. The painting is untitled, but because of the unique mixture of recognizable signs and traces you can read much from it as a viewer. With oil paint and oil pastels, the artist painted restlessly diverse references ranging from European cultural history to African-American counterculture.

Though Jean-Michel Basquiat never attended art school, the way he looked at things was all the more incisive. Society, jazz, ancient history, modern currencies and even anatomical textbooks all inspired him.

Talk about it

From which “sources” do you draw? Which songs, lyrics, people occupy you? What food do you like, which cities? What annoys you the most? Why?

"A menu in a restaurant is a picture. Maybe I won’t eat the roast pork, but its image lives on. The menu, the writing, continue to exist without me."

Jean-Michel Basquiat

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As a teenager, Jean-Michel Basquiat spent a lot of time on the streets, spraying graffiti on the walls of buildings. This is actually forbidden, but it allowed him to become visible in the city and express himself publicly. As a graffiti artist, he became known with his friend Al Diaz under the pseudonym SAMO©. SAMO© is an abbreviation and stands for “same old shit.” Jean-Michel was referring to the ongoing racism in the United States. At some point, he wrote on the wall “Samo is dead” and outed himself as “Jean-Michel.”

Collaboration

Many artists work together, act and react to each other, not only in the street art scene. Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol also worked together for a while.

Look closely

In his work “Untitled” (1983), Jean-Michel Basquiat sometimes crosses out words, but still leaves them on the canvas. What effect does he achieve by doing this?

Talk about it

Do like Jean-Michel Basquiat and take a good look for yourself: What subjects would you put on the curriculum at your art school?

Talk about it

What is special about collaborative artistic activity?

Delve deeper

Artist Factory

Jean-Michel Basquiat

was born in New York, USA, in 1960 and dies there in 1988.

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Sample your own artwork!

Get inspired and combine letters, signs and symbols to create a work of art.