Art Inspiration: Jean-Michel Basquiat’s “Riding with Death” and more

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Riding with Death, 1988.


Jean-Michel Basquiat began his artistic career while in his teenage years, as a graffiti artist in Manhattan, before transitioning to painting later in life. His work quickly attracted widespread acclaim for its depth and composition and Basquiat was soon the toast of the art world. Unfortunately, the artist was also struggling with a heroin addiction and died of a “speedball” overdose (essentially a mix of heroin and cocaine) when he was only 27.

Basquiat was prolific and it isn’t clear exactly which is his final finished painting. But one of the likely candidates seems to be Riding with Death, which was completed in the months before his suicide in 1988. The work features a skeletal creature being straddled by a human figure. Although much of Basquiat’s late work has been criticized as lazy and overly commercial, Riding With Death remains a firm critical favorite, with some critics linking it to the concept of spiritual possession (“being ridden”) in Haitian voodoo. Other contenders for the title of Basquiat’s last painting are Eroica II, The Dingoes That Park Their Brains With Their Gum, and The Mechanics That Always Have A Gear Left Over.

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Jean-Michel Basquiat, Flexible, 1984.

Jean-Michel Basquiat, An Italian, 1983.

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled, 1982.

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Eroica II, 1988.

Jean-Michel Basquiat, The Dingoes That Park Their Brains with their Gum, 1988.

 

 

 

 

 

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