New York

Jean Michel Basquiat

Annina Nosei

Surprisingly, though Jean Michel Basquiat comes, infamously by now, from a graffiti tradition (nom de spray: Samo), his colliding opposites are much less anarchistic than MacConnel’s. Whereas MacConnel’s ironic stance allows him to endorse nothing publicly, Basquiat’s reversals are not those of his own irony but of the unintended situational irony of a system he would like, one surmises, to see work, if only it could. His tone, as compared to the Flaubertian one of MacConnel’s slice of commercial low life, bears the accent of disillusionment: if MacConnel presents the way it is, Basquiat tends to emphasize the way it should be; if MacConnel describes false premises, Basquiat decries false promises.

So even such a potentially neutral formal decision as the subtly diptychal nature of these works (the ground is often split, though not evenly between two dominating colors) becomes an analogue

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. Please sign in below.

Not registered for Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW and save up to 65% off the newsstand price for full online access to this issue and our archive.

Order the PRINT EDITION of the Summer 1982 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.