Jean-Michel Basquiat emerged from the punk scene in New York as a street-smart graffiti artist. He successfully crossed over his downtown origins to the international art gallery circuit. Basquiat’s work is one of the few examples of how an early 1980’s American graffiti-based could become a fully recognized artist. Despite his work’s unstudied appearance, Basquiat very skillfully and purposefully brought together in his art a host of disparate traditions, practices and styles to create a unique kind of visual collage. His work is an example of how American artists of the 1980’s could reintroduce the human figure in their work after the wide success of minimalism and conceptualism.
This piece is called “Irony of a negro policeman” by Jean-Michel Basquiat in 1981. This is a Neo-expressionist painting; he used acrylic and crayon to create this figurative image. It is depicting an African-American being a policeman. The figure in the painting is a black mass, with a mask-like face and hat resembling a cage. On the right of the painting are the words “Irony of Negro Policeman,” and to the bottom right of the panting is the word “Pawn,” clearly stating Basquiat’s opinion on the ridiculous position of a black Policeman. Basquiat used a lot of straight simple lines, squares and rectangles, the colors used in this image are especially primary colors, he also used words on an almost empty background to amplified the meaning of his image and the concentration of details are on the