Boom For Real

I saw this exhibition at The Barbican of the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat, the American artist. I didn’t know what to expect of the show as I knew nothing of Basquiat’s work before my visit. While quite a proportion of the exhibition space was of his work, a substantial part also seemed to be about his life, influences and friendships. It is difficult to describe his work- graffiti, scrawls, child-like drawing – came to my mind. It certainly wasn’t the type of art that I would buy if I had the money, but there were a couple of aspects that I found interesting within the exhibition.

Firstly I was interested to see another artist using collage within their work, ever since I first thought about using collage for Assignment 6 of this course, I have started to notice how frequently it is used in modern art. Not to a huge degree in Basquiat’s case, but certainly something he experimented with and it was good for me to study how it had been used.

Secondly, and much more widespread within his work, was the use of text. I had just been reading the section on Richard Long’s Textworks in the Landscape course material, so it was interesting to see the work of an artist who used text extensively. There is a big difference in how the two artist use text, Long uses words and language as the image whereas Basquiat uses text as one part, along with other material, to form an overall image. I saw how he had used single words, sometimes boldly, to influence what a viewer sees in an image, in other cases though he used phrases, short sentences, or a multiplicity of single words for overall effect.

I came away understanding a little more about how text can be used within art and intrigued as to  whether it was something that I could put to use.