GWOP University

"Art Study" by Kim Bell

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Basquiat “Skull” (1982)

Many of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s paintings are in some way autobiographical, and Untitled may be considered a form of self-portraiture. The skull here exists somewhere between life and death. The eyes are listless, the face is sunken in, and the head looks lobotomized and subdued. Yet there are wild colors and spirited marks that suggest a surfeit of internal activity. Developing his own personal iconography, in this early work Basquiat both alludes to modernist appropriation of African masks and employs the mask as a means of exploring identity. Basquiat labored over this painting for months — evident in the worked surface and imagery — while most of his pieces were completed with bursts of energy over just a few days. The intensity of the painting, which was presented at his debut solo gallery exhibition in New York City, may also represent Basquiat’s anxieties surrounding the pressures of becoming a commercially successful artist.

Photo 📸 Kim Bell

Mark Rothko (1957)

LACMA

Abstract Expressionist Mark Rothko is known for the hovering, shimmering fields of color in his mature paintings. White Center reflects his fascination with the emotional and visual power of the color red, which dominates his canvases of the 1950s and 1960s. The red rectangles suggest ritual and elemental associations (blood and fire, life and death), while an inner light appears to emanate from the white center, suggesting an ethereal, numinous glow. For Rothko, color was key to a spiritual realm, evoking transcendental truths that could not be expressed through recognizable imagery.

Photo: Kim Bell

Banksy (documentary)

Documentary about the most famous graffiti artist in the world.