Jean Basquait

Essay by j0shua_n2kw3High School, 11th grade May 2004

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Jean Basquiat was brought into this world in 1960 and grew up in New York. His mother was Afro-Puerto Rican, father was Haitian, and both were middle class citizens. He didn't try to keep his background from the public, and did not exhibit shame or the need to reverse negative stereotypes about African-Americans, but rather publicized details of his life in paintings. He did not try to involve himself in the black political arena because he didn't feel welcome in the upper-class black art communities. Although he didn't become involved in politics concerning African Americans, he certainly did criticize and make statements in his works that revolted against the mistreatment of his race and others as well. He died at the age of twenty seven after painting professionally for only seven years.

He repeated themes in his paintings, portraying his ideas innovatively and intellectually. His paintings at first glance seem to have a primitive style, but the symbolism he uses and his chaotic, discordant technique merely enhances the impact of the message he tries to send.

His use of words, phrases, arrows, symbols and scribbles are the reason for much of this discord; but perhaps he felt as if his message would not be heard unless he made use of them.

His messages are bold and defiant; at times, his paintings almost express a sort of anger and contempt towards the human condition. It seems that his works suggest a deep-rooted hostility toward the exploitation and corruption of the innocent for capital gain through the use of religion, taking lands from natives, and excessive industrialization and commercialism at the expense of those who have no power to reverse any undesired effect. The placement of words and symbols seem at first to be unimportant, and only after looking deeper can...