Saturday night I went with friends to a dive bar that has become so famous as a dive bar that it isn’t really a dive anymore. We went to celebrate my girlfriend’s birthday, but also? To dance. Starfarm, a band with all kinds of local fame, was playing. The important thing to know about Starfarm is that they are an 80s cover band. We danced to Prince, The Bengels, Madness, etc. Insert many rad heart emojis here. I was a sweaty mess by the time I left, but high on memories of Cabbage Patch Kids and Caboodles.
In honor of these eighties flashbacks, I’d like to write about Jean-Michel Basquiat: an incredible artist, who tragically died of a heroin overdose in 1988. My girls checked a book about Basquiat out of the library last year, and he’s been on my mind ever since. I hadn’t heard of him before, but he was Famous, with a capital F. One of his paintings holds the record for the highest bid for an American artist at Sotheby’s.
|This untitled piece sold for $110 million in 2017.|
Though he died early, he wasn’t one of those artists who only became famous in his death. While he was still living, Basquiat had exhibits in museums all over the world. Not too shabby for a 20-something! He rubbed elbows with Madonna, David Bowie, was in a Blondie video, and good friends with Andy Warhol. He was every ounce as popular as perms or mullets in the eighties. Much of his art is a commentary on violence, racism, and class structure.
|This used to hang in the home of Lars Ulrich- drummer for Metallica.|
As a general rule, I don’t care for art with too much skeletal structure, but I do love animals in crowns:
|This is titled “Pez Dispenser.” Basquiat often put a pop culture spin on his art.|
He often featured crowns in his paintings as a symbol of class inequality. See also, Tuxedo. Spoiler alert: it’s not a painting of a tuxedo. And speaking of tuxedos, he would paint in $1,000 Armani suits. No doubt, French-rolling the bottoms of the pants.