More about Obnoxious Liberals
Social criticism is not foreign to Basquiat’s art and Obnoxious Liberals packs a punch with its title and the cryptic declaration “not for sale”.
Jean-Michel Basquiat started out as a teenage graffiti artist that wrote phrases around his native New York City, many of them calling out what he perceived to be the evils of society. Basquiat worked tirelessly in his short career as an artist, producing an extensive amount of work before dying of an overdose at the age of 27. Although his life was tragically short, his art as well as his critical and witty persona have made him a bona-fide legend.
During the time that he produced Obnoxious Liberals, Basquiat was fresh on the cusp of fame. He had made contact with established art dealers and after having a successful first show out in Los Angeles, Basquiat moved from New York. A man that smoked “a little bit of everything,” on the flight out to California he and his artist buddies lit up a spliff in first class. Basquiat’s response to the poor stewardess that came over to reprimand him? “I’m sorry. I thought this was first class?” It’s not hard to see why the man is an icon.
With style and swagger, it’s only natural that Basquiat should pair up with a diva, or better said; a material girl. Cue: Madonna. Before the two were big stars, they were grinding it out together, getting hype off of each other’s crazy work ethic. When they broke up, Basquiat painted over each of the paintings that he had gifted her and ripped them to shreds. Basquiat’s broken heart means that Madonna can’t add herself to the list of celebrities with a collection of Basquiat paintings (Jay Z, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Swizz Beatz just to name a few). And it might be a little tricky to get her hands on one now unless she’s ready to shell out some serious cash. In 2017, a Basquiat painting sold for $110.5 million, making it the most expensive painting by a US artist ever.
So, “not for sale”? It goes without saying that Basquiat probably didn’t refer to the actual painting, but with Basquiat’s art being such a hot commodity the irony cannot be missed. I just wish Basquiat were here to make a smart-ass comment about it.
- Bosworth, Patricia. “Hyped to Death.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 9 Aug. 1998, archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/books/98/08/09/reviews/980809.09boswort.html?_r=1.
- Brant, Peter M. “Larry Gagosian.” Interview Magazine, 3 Jan. 2013, www.interviewmagazine.com/art/larry-gagosian.
- Cascone, Sarah. “Basquiat Took Back Paintings He Gave Madonna.” Artnet News, Artnet News, 17 Mar. 2015, news.artnet.com/art-world/basquiat-took-back-madonna-paintings-277735.
- “Celebrity Art Collectors: 10 Celebrities from Hollywood.” Widewalls, www.widewalls.ch/10-celebrity-collectors/.
- Katz, Brigit. “Basquiat Painting Becomes Most Expensive American Work Ever Sold.” Smithsonian.com, Smithsonian Institution, 23 May 2017, www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/basquiat-painting-becomes-most-expens….