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Confronting Injustice: Basquiat's Social Commentary in 'Jim Crow (1986)'

In this pensive portrait from 1986 by Sabina Sarnitz, Jean-Michel sits before a wood panel with one word written repeatedly, MISSISSIPPI, which at the time of the sitting represented the early stages of the artwork that would eventually become known as “Jim Crow (1986),” titled after the laws which once enforced racial segregation in the Southern United States.

Here, in addition to acknowledging the importance of the Mississippi River in American history, Jean-Michel is also calling attention to the state of Mississippi which was particularly resistant to the struggle for racial equality.

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

Photograph: Sabina Sarnitz, 1986 Artwork: Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jim Crow (1986)

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