For my drawing class this term, we watched Basquiat, a film about Jean Michele Basquiat made in 1996. My teacher’s idol whom he proclaimed was the greatest artist of his generation… okay. I have a tremendous amount of respect for my art teacher, he’s awesome. But this… nnno. I’m sorry. If this movie is to be believed, and he assured us, although romanticized, it was accurate then uuhh…The only thing this movie proved to me was that a.) Jean Michell Basquiat could not draw, and b.) Jean Michele Basquiat was a total douche. The movie itself was incredible! Benicio del Toro, David Bowie as Andy Warhol (!!), Christopher Walken, this movie was up to it’s balls in talent. All to fictionalize the life of a man who painted like a 3 year old.
I have issues with abstract expressionism in general. It can be beautiful, it can be powerful OR it can be smearing white paint on stacks of tires. After seeing the film, I understand the symbolism, like, I get it. But I had to watch a whole fucking movie about this guys life to even begin to get it. I know there are those who would say, “Oh you need to open your mind, you just don’t get it.” This is a classic artist snub, and I call total bullshit on it. First of all, Jean Michele started out as a graffiti artist. If you have a really strong message or something powerful you want to convey to the world-they have to be able to understand it. You can’t draw a tin can on the side of building and then chastise the public for not understanding your genius. In the world of graffiti, the neighborhood that you tag is your canvas, that community is your public. And if they can’t understand what your trying to convey- well, that’s your problem.
BUT LO. Jean Michele was discovered by Andy Warhol, and launched him into super stardom.
My opinion of Andy Warhol is withheld here, for fear some graphic designer may reach through the internet and tear my eyeballs out through the socket. He went from living in a box in a New York park to being rich beyond his wildest dreams. Like a Disney Princess! Eventually he overdosed on heroin and died at the infamous age of 27. People really thought he was an artistic genius. I don’t see that. I see a guy who cooked his brain on drugs, who may or may not have been mentally ill, and got rich doing very little work. In fact, I see this man’s life as more of a work of art than his real art. He lived in New York in the 70’s, the son of a Haitian immigrant. He endured all the ugly racism of the era, and the snobbery of the art community, only to rise up as their master. He drew total crap, which because of the right connections was interpreted as genius by rich, white dipshits. He got rich and got the white man to praise him for doing absolute crap. Now that is artistic genius.