Basquiat

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Categoria:Inglese

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Data:12.03.2007
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Testo

The artist we have chosen as the more representative of the Afro-American culture and black art is Basquiat. In our exposition we have analysed his life, his career and style but also the way he spoke about his origins, slavery, music, violence and cultural identity.
Basquiat became active as an artist while still a teenager and was world-famous by the age of twenty-three. He was considered an exceptional creative talent by any standard, and at a young age became a cultural hero to younger artists.

- Basquiat was born in Brooklyn in 1960. His father is an accountant from Haiti and his mother is of Puerto-Rican origins.
- In 1965 he begins drawing cartoons and this is the start of a life of compulsive picture-making. He often visits the Brooklyn museum and other art museums.
- In 1968 a car accident puts Jean-Michel in the hospital with a broken arm and internal injuries. His mother gives him a copy of Gray’s Anatomy to help pass the time and with this book Basquiat discovers his interest in human anatomy.
- In 1977 with his friend Al Diaz, Basquiat invents the SAMO GRAFFITI CHARACTER which stand for SAME OLD SHIT.
- After leaving home in 1979, Jean-Michel explores music and art. He begins selling hand-painted postcards and t-shirts, and forms the band Gray with some friends.

Now we are going to analyse his works in order to find the themes that are connected with black history, slavery and Afro-American culture.

Speaking about Heritage, I’ve chosen this monumental painting: “The Nile”, which explores Basquiat’s own heritage and connects the history of the United States with that of tha ancient world. This painting has had at least 3 different titles at different times: “El Gran Espectáculo” and “History of Black People” as well as the current name, “The Nile”.
Espectáculo:
The Spanish words "el gran espectáculo" mean "the big show". Basquiat learned Spanish from his mother, Matilde, who was born in Brooklyn to Puerto Rican parents so Spanish words appear throughout his art.
Mujer:
The Spanish word "mujer" means "woman" in English. The woman seen here has a male counterpart across the painting on the brownish background.
Slave:
This male counterpart to the "mujer" is identified with the word "slave" and its Spanish translation, "esclavo".
Nile:
This epic painting is called The Nile, the name of a flowing river, a source of life, and the center of the ancient Egyptian world. Many African Americans regard this ancient civilization in Africa as a touchstone of their cultural heritage.
Amen:
"Amen" is another spelling for Amun, an Egyptian god but "Amen" may also refer to the English-language word used as an expression of faith.
Hieroglyphs:
The eye and the waves are examples of ancient Egyptian picture writings, called hieroglyphs, which sometimes appeared on walls. The practice of writing words on the walls of public spaces is an ancient tradition.
Nuba:
The Nuba people reside in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan. They have a very strong culture that values body painting for spiritual purposes.
Sickle:
The word "sickle" refer to the form of the Egyptian boat found in this painting.

Here we have other works that show the same theme.

In this second large painting, called “Notary” we can see images, words, symbols, colors and ideas that Basquiat took from lots of different sources and brought them together, like a collage of things he found in his life.
Rhythm:
Basquiat loved jazz and hip-hop. In this painting, he repeats and combines different lines, colors, images, and words, creating a fast tempo that creates a sense of improvisation. He may have been inspired by one of his musical heroes, the jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker.
Anatomy:
Basquiat drew inspiration from many different sources, including his large collection of books. His way of showing a man both inside and out may have been inspired by several books he owned, including Gray's Anatomy, a book about Leonardo da Vinci.
Materials:
Regarding materials, Basquiat's paintings are made from a combination of different techniques. In Notary, he used acrylic, a water-based paint. He also used an oil paintstick to write directly on the canvas and over the prints.

And here we can see other examples of his typical artistic process.

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