map
the broad

Untitled

Jean‐Michel Basquiat
1981
acrylic and oilstick on canvas
81 x 69 1/4 in. (205.74 x 175.9 cm)
Douglas M. Parker Studio, Los Angeles

[MUSIC: Public Image]

 

NARRATOR

Broad Director Joanne Heyler.

 

JOANNE HEYLER

It almost looks like a map of the anatomy of a brain and a head, almost as if you're seeing through someone’s face and into someone’s thought process directly. And I think that's one of the reasons people are tempted to think of it as a self-portrait, even though that's never really been verified.

 

NARRATOR

Edye Broad

 

EDYE BROAD

I remember the moment we met Basquiat, it was in Soho, when he was working and living in the basement of Annina Nosei’s gallery. He was in his 20s, the age of one of our sons. His passion made a great impression on us and we acquired several of his works.

 

NARRATOR

1981 was a fraught time for Jean-Michel Basquiat: The young black artist was about to open his first New York solo show to a predominantly white art world. That tension, that ambivalence, and insecurity, bursts at the seams. At the top and bottom of the painting, marks resembling words behave like code, something only the artist could decipher, a kind of communication breakdown.

 

Though Basquiat was known for working at a furious pace, often producing multiple works in one day, it took him over a year to finish this one.