Monday, August 6, 2018


6 x 8"
oil on panel

I'm home from a road trip up to Virginia to visit with family and got to visit the National Portrait Gallery in DC while we were there.  This museum, connected to the Smithsonian Museum of American Art is somewhat overlooked by visitors because it's not on the Mall with numerous other great museums, but it is SO worth it.

Credit to my sister-in-law, who took the photo for this new painting - a young man viewing an abstract expressionism painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat, which I can't find the title to.

Jean-Michel Basquiat was a young, prolific artist who created most of his work during the 80's.  Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1960, he was a talented artist at a young age, encouraged by his mother, fluent in French, Spanish and English.  His parents separated when he was eight, returned to his mother's home in Puerto Rico for a couple of years then returned to New York City.  He was 13 when his mother was committed to a mental institution and Jean-Michel's troubled teen years began.  When he dropped out of high school, his father banished him from the family's home and he stayed with friends, supporting himself by selling artwork and T-shirts.

Basquiat went from homelessness and unemployement to selling his paintings for up to $25,000 in a matter of several years.  He produced around 600 paintings, 1500 drawings and sculptures in his short life and died at the age of 27 from a heroin overdose.

To summarize Basquiat's life, his experiences, the magic of pure fate that shaped his future, would take up an entire book.  I think he was a genius way before his time, but he lived in the right time for his artistic talents to be seen and heard.  He once described his art as 80% anger and to be described from then on by critics as "80% anger and 20% mystery".

Just one more plug for if you're in Washington DC - go to the National Portrait Gallery.  The museum redid the President's portraits gallery and it's most excellent.  Especially the portrait of President Obama, by Kehinde Wiley.  It brought tears to my eyes.

The long line to see Obama's portrait up close.

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