New York 1960 – New York 1988
A Panel of Experts
Acrylic and oil pastel on paper mounted on canvas
152.5 x 152 cm
Gift of Ira Young, inv. 1990.29
International Contemporary Art
Born to a Haitian father and a Puerto Rican mother, Jean-Michel Basquiat left home at the age of sixteen and began to make art on the streets of New York City. His subsequent rise to critical success was meteoric, as was his life: he died at the age of twenty-seven. Made in a pivotal year in Basquiat’s career, when he was beginning to achieve international recognition, this painting embodies many of the artist’s characteristic subjects and techniques, notably his bold handling of colour and line (often compared to Neo-Expressionist German painting) and his use of language and signs to infuse complex layers of meaning into his work. This canvas is believed to allude to a specific event in the artist’s personal life: a fight between Basquiat’s girlfriend, Suzanne Mallouk (nicknamed Venus), and his lover, the singer Madonna, both of whose names appear in the upper left-hand corner of the painting, above the depiction of a fist-fight between stick figures.
© Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York