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Art as Identity: Basquiat's Introspective Journey in 'Self Portrait as a Heel (Part Two)'

Jean-Michel’s art is deeply intertwined with themes of identity and social justice. Born in Brooklyn in 1960 to Puerto Rican and Haitian parents, he came of age amidst ongoing inner-city racial unrest and debates about the meaning of being an American.

For Basquiat, the canvas served as a platform to explore and express these questions. An example includes his painting, “Self Portrait as a Heel (Part Two)” which Christie’s describes as follows:

“Majestically dominating Basquiat's 1982 'Self Portrait as a Heel (Part Two)' is the figure of a man with dreadlocks flowing Medusa-like in the wind, flared nostrils and exposed teeth. The human figure is central to Basquiat's art, at times it is expressionistic, at times it is primitive and child-like but it is always distinctly Basquiat. Painted when he was only 21 years old, this extraordinarily confident image fills the canvas with a contradictory mixture of anger, self-assurance and deprecation.”

Learn more about Jean-Michel’s work and worldview in the Jean-Michel Basquiat: King Pleasure© Exhibition catalog.

Artwork: Jean-Michel Basquiat, Self Portrait as a Heel (Part Two), 1982.

© Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat Licensed by Artestar, New York

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