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IMAGE GALLERY

"The Death of Michael Stewart" (1983) is reproduced from
CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 7/31/2019

Basquiat's "Defacement"—about the 1983 death of Michael Stewart in police custody—is all too relevant today

“It could be argued that "Defacement (The Death of Michael Stewart)" (1983) is Jean-Michel Basquiat’s most personal painting,” curator Chaédria LaBouvier writes in the Guggenheim Museum’s recent release, Basquiat's "Defacement": The Untold Story. “A first among equals in an oeuvre noted for its intensity and intimacy, no other work from Basquiat’s body of work has surfaced with more unfiltered feeling and vulnerability, nor has depicted a current event that touched his life so directly. The location of the work’s primary pulse as decidedly emotional rather than strictly political is remarkable, for Basquiat mostly favors temporally distant subjects over contemporary, nameable, concrete enemies. 'Defacement' demonstrates an exceptional if temporary shift in Basquiat’s body of work from verisimilar depiction to a more deeply felt, personal veracity. It is a rare painting by the artist that does not portray black masculinity and its traumas with the heroism and valor that he so deeply admired—at times relied on—as a bulwark against the marginalization of racism and the threat of its violent enforcement, the legacy of colonialism and slavery. Though an outlier among the artist’s highly singular output in terms of style and substance, 'Defacement' has the potential to serve as a Rosetta stone to help us better understand Basquiat’s work as a whole.”

Basquiat's "Defacement"

Basquiat's "Defacement"

Guggenheim Museum
Pbk, 6.5 x 9.5 in. / 168 pgs / 60 color.

$29.95  free shipping





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