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Jean-Michel Basquiat

Six Crimee

1982

Jean-Michel Basquiat’s involvement in graffiti art in New York during the late 1970s led him to begin producing paintings and drawings. His subjects are drawn from his own personal history as well as African-American history. Basquiat’s works included a range of cultural figures, such as athletes and musicians, as well as heroic figures such as prophets and kings. Six Crimee comprises three panels that present six haloed black male heads against a background of energetic green brushstrokes. The work’s visual vocabulary is paradigmatic of Neo-Expressionist painting of 1980s New York, while its schematic lines and symbols are reminiscent of the graffiti Basquiat scrawled on building façades throughout lower Manhattan when he was involved with that movement.

Jean-Michel Basquiat (b. 1960, New York; d. 1988, New York)
Six Crimee, 1982
Acrylic and oil stick on masonite
72 x 144 in.
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
The Scott D. F. Spiegel Collection

I never know how to describe my work. It’s not always the same thing. It’s like asking Miles [Davis], “How does your horn sound?” I don’t think he can really tell you why he played this at a certain time… I’m usually in front of the television; I have to have some source materials…I don’t know, magazines, textbooks. —Jean-Michel Basquiat