Collector’s Choice: Jean Michel Basquiat


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QUICK FACTS

NAME
Jean-Michel Basquiat
OCCUPATION
Painter
BIRTH DATE
December 22, 1960
DEATH DATE
August 12, 1988
PLACE OF BIRTH
Brooklyn, New York
PLACE OF DEATH
New York, New York
NICKNAME
“SAMO”

Jean-Michel Basquiat was a Neo-Expressionist painter in the 1980s. He is best known for his primitive style and his collaboration with pop artist Andy Warhol.

Synopsis

Jean-Michel Basquiat was born on December 22, 1960, in Brooklyn, New York. He first attracted attention for his graffiti under the name “SAMO” in New York City. He sold sweatshirts and postcards featuring his artwork on the streets before his painting career took off. He collaborated with Andy Warhol in the mid-1980s, which resulted in a show of their work. Basquiat died on August 12, 1988, in New York City.

 

Early Years

Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat was born in Brooklyn, New York, on December 22, 1960. With a Haitian-American father and a Puerto Rican mother, Basquiat’s diverse cultural heritage was one of his many sources of inspiration.

A self-taught artist, Basquiat began drawing at an early age on sheets of paper his father, an accountant, brought home from the office. As he delved deeper into his creative side, his mother strongly encouraged to pursue artistic talents.

Basquiat first attracted attention for his graffiti in New York City in the late 1970s, under the name “SAMO.” Working with a close friend, he tagged subway trains and Manhattan buildings with cryptic aphorisms.

In 1977, Basquiat quit high school a year before he was slated to graduate. To make ends meet, he sold sweatshirts and postcards featuring his artwork on the streets of his native New York.

Commercial Success

Three years of struggle gave way to fame in 1980, when his work was featured in a group show. His work and style received critical acclaim for the fusion of words, symbols, stick figures, and animals. Soon, his paintings came to be adored by an art loving public that had no problem paying as much as $50,000 for a Basquiat original.

His rise coincided with the emergence of a new art movement, Neo-Expressionism, ushering in a wave of new, young and experimental artists that included Julian Schnabel and Susan Rothenberg.

In the mid 1980s, Basquiat collaborated with famed pop artist Andy Warhol, which resulted in a show of their work that featured a series of corporate logos and cartoon characters.

On his own, Basquiat continued to exhibit around the country and the world. In 1986, he traveled to Africa for a show in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. That same year, the 25-year-old exhibited nearly 60 paintings at the Kestner-Gesellschaft Gallery in Hanover, Germany—becoming the youngest artist to ever showcase his work there.

Personal Problems

As his popularity soared, so did Basquiat’s personal problems. By the mid-1980s, friends became increasingly concerned by his excessive drug use. He became paranoid and isolated himself from the world around him for long stretches. Desperate to kick a heroin addiction, he left New York for Hawaii in 1988, returning a few months later and claiming to be sober.

Sadly, he wasn’t. Basquiat died of a drug overdose on August 12, 1988, in New York City. He was 27 years old. Although his art career was brief, Jean-Michel Basquiat has been credited with bringing the African-American and Latino experience in the elite art world.

Jean-Michel Basquiat Biography
Author

Biography.com Editors
Website Name

http://www.biography.com/people/jean-michel-basquiat-185851

 

 

 

Happy Halloween! The Ultimate ART DAY!


 

 

Two art students at Western Hills High School produce their Halloween interpretation of “Monster.”

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Painting by Julia Martinez, Sophomore at Western Hills High School

 

 

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Painting by Stirling Crawford, Junior, Western Hills High School

 

 

 

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Stirling speaks with his hand….
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Costume Day at Western Hills, with Cheech of Cheech and Chong, and an angel.

Monster Project:  For High School Level Students

 

Create a Monster                             Kirstein

 

Objective: Design a symbolic portrait of a “monster,” using symbols to convey the monster’s inner and outer personality, affinities and tendencies. You can use collage, pencil, colored pencil, marker or paint, and you must cover your whole sheet of paper with an environment for the monster.

 

 

Your monster does not have to be realistic or look like a person, but  it must include:

  • A monster figure, whether drawn, painted, or created with glued collage magazine pieces.

2) Use entire sheet of paper.

3) Use proportion to create a sense of the unusual and to create emphasis and balance. Create variety and harmony through the use of color, shape and value.

4) Monster needs to convery personality and the environment needs to surround it with symbols pertaining to the likes and dislikes of this monster you have created.

 

How to proceed:

Step 1: Draw your monster on a piece of 12” x 18”  white paper to formulate and brainstorm your design. On this paper, decide how the main figure will look, and how you will arrange the objects in your drawing.

Step two: Draw main figure and symbols with pencil.

Step three: Use prisma colored pencils or regular colored pencils for the color. You may also use tempra paint, water color or magic marker. Magazine collage is also encouraged. You may also glue in words that relate to the monster.

 

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“Clown” painted by Blaze Paul, Freshman Western Hills High School

Scale I: Focus

Project completed

Student followed directions/classroom rules

Student made effort to meet objectives and goals

Work completed on time

Effort/attitude

 

Scale II: Craftsmanship/Technique

Craftsmanship is aptitude, skill, manual dexterity in use of media and tools.

Technique is manner and skill with which the artist employs the tools/materials to

achieve the chosen effect.

Criteria:

Skillful use of media

Care taken with project

Work area cleaned daily

Media used with correct technique

Technical skill in the use of media

Visual detail (neatness)

Appropriate use of supplies and materials

Skillful and appropriate use of materials

 

Assessment:

 

4  Assignment on time; meets or exceeds all criteria.

3  Assignment on time with one criterion missing.

2  Assignment on time but has two criteria missing.

  • Assignment late or has three or four criteria missing.
  • Assignment late or has inappropriate solution to the problem, incomplete

 

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“Lion Monster” by Hala Jordon, Junior, Western Hills High School

Halloween is Art! Halloween Treats…


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“Monster” painting by Hannah Blankenship, Western Hills High School Art Student

Everywhere you turn, costumes, paintings, face painting,  and hair styles dress the Halloween.

 

 

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“Monster” by Maci Tackett, Western Hills High School art student

At Western Hills High School in Frankfort, Kentucky, we celebrated our new status as a Distinguished School with special activities including an outdoor cook out for lunch. The weather was beautiful today! Perfect day for a picnic!

 

 

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“Ghost” by Kanice Prince, Western Hills High School art student.

Our High School students in the art room treated the Western Hills Day Care trick -or- treaters with a little chocolate!

 

MORE HALLOWEEN ART

 

 

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AND WHO REMEMBERS GOMEZ AND MORTICIA?

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A POEM FOR HALLOWEEN BY EDGAR ALLAN POE

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The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe | Poetry Foundation <link href=”//www.poetryfoundation.org/assets/styles/icons.fallback.css” rel=”stylesheet”>

The Raven

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore–
    While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door–
            Only this and nothing more.”
    Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
    Eagerly I wished the morrow;–vainly I had sought to borrow
    From my books surcease of sorrow–sorrow for the lost Lenore–
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore–
            Nameless here for evermore.
    And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me–filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
    So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
    “’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door–
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;–
            This it is and nothing more.”
    Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
    But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
    And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you”–here I opened wide the door;–
            Darkness there and nothing more.
    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
    But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
    And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”–
            Merely this and nothing more.
    Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
    “Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;
      Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore–
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;–
            ’Tis the wind and nothing more!”
    Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
    Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
    But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door–
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door–
            Perched, and sat, and nothing more.
Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore–
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
    Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning–little relevancy bore;
    For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
    Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door–
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
            With such name as “Nevermore.”
    But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
    Nothing farther then he uttered–not a feather then he fluttered–
    Till I scarcely more than muttered “Other friends have flown before–
On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before.”
            Then the bird said “Nevermore.”
    Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store
    Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
    Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore–
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
            Of ‘Never–nevermore’.”
    But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
    Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
    Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore–
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
            Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”
    This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
    This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
    On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose velvet-violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!
    Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
    “Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee–by these angels he hath sent thee
    Respite–respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore;
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
    “Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!–prophet still, if bird or devil!–
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
    Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted–
    On this home by Horror haunted–tell me truly, I implore–
Is there–is there balm in Gilead?–tell me–tell me, I implore!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
    “Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!–prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us–by that God we both adore–
    Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
    It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore–
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
    “Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting–
“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
    Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
    Leave my loneliness unbroken!–quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
    And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
    And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
    And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
            Shall be lifted–nevermore!

CLICK HERE FOR BOOKS FOR CHILDREN!

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

 

CLICK HERE FOR SOME PET HALLOWEEN COSTUMES!

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Halloween lion’s mane for your dog!

Collector’s Choice: George Raftopoulos


www.georgeraftopoulos.com

 

 

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‘TRANSPORTED-MIGRATION’
Text by John Burns 2016.

What does contemporary art have to do with migrants and migration? When we normally view the subject through modern eyes it’s usually all about dodgy photographs, boredom and things somebody found in their grandfather’s attic. For me looking at the paintings of George Raftopoulos, it’s all about ghosts on the canvas.

 

 

 

 

Despite what the experts will tell you, good painting is a chicken and an egg type thing. The public gets what galleries think constitutes modernity as opposed to art that is actually part of the modern world. The notion of contemporary painting tends to conjure up thoughts of narrow minded navel gazers trying to avoid a work for the dole scheme. As cave art and the Sistine chapel can attest, there was a time when painting was expected to be more about the community than the artist’s own daydream. This is why when really good contemporary art comes along it confounds critical expectation. George Raftopoulos’s series of works based around Greek immigration to Australia does the confounding eloquently. It is a prime example of how 21st century art can still communicate big ideas without needing a stable Wi Fi connection. There is a reflective quality to these works, both in how they are seen by the audience and the feelings they evoke. George makes them more than a set of Kodachrome memories. Playing with the notion of migrant identity or absence thereof, he invites us all along for the journey.

 

 

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Post world war two migration from Greece has become part of our nation’s folklore. This gives almost everything associated with it a mythic quality. From milk bars to fruit shops it’s easy to live in a halcyon era. But what is lost in the process is the often harsh reality of being a stranger in a strange land. There was always more to being Greek in Australia than “Con the Fruiterer’ .This exhibition does not rehash the bare bones of history, but rather explores a parallel emotional story of the lives involved. A key trait throughout the works is George’s own ambition to see Greek immigration to Australia as more than a textbook event. He wants us to remember that the lives often observed by two lines in a government publication or stereotypes in a comedy sketch are those of real people. George’s paintings bring these experiences of the past back into contemporary focus. They are ghosts of the Charles Dickens kind. Juxtaposed with Greece’s own current crisis of refugees, the series reminds us of the shifting way we see migrants both past and present.

 

 

 

 

With George’s images, the notion of the eyes being windows to the soul is actually true. You get a reminder looking at the collection, that all humans are migrants. Travelling between cultures has never been a case of just reaching point B. Whether it be sixty years ago, a million years past or last week, it’s not who the migrant actually is but who they are seen to be that matters. Via a process of primitively printed smudges on each canvas, George loosens the identity from each individual portrait. Whilst we know that these images are based upon Greek immigrants, their immediate identification is lost to a point in which they can become anybody. Devoid of a bias towards an ethnicity we are left with who we are. As a collected group, they look like a gallery of freaks. As individual images you respond to the traits you see in yourself. These are light and dark mirrors, both complimenting and condemning the viewer. Your ego asks “how could anyone defame or vilify anyone like me?” The ghost replies “well you did, didn’t you?”

 

 

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I’m a Gen X, one of the last eras’s in which the term “Wog” was still used as part of the everyday vocabulary. Few of us cringed at the term back then, I do now. But just because something becomes politically incorrect, does not necessarily mean society changes or the wounds heal overnight. The works Prophet and Dreamer reflect this sense of dystopia. Prophet carves a face out of black and white toning. Black to the left, white to the right and grey down the middle. As hordes of Syrian refugees flood Greece today, it is a stern reminder that migrants are seen in a variety of emotive ways, both in hindsight and at the time of their arrival. The work doesn’t make the judgment of good or bad, the audience does. George over prints the piece with a motif resembling lace. Almost like some kind medieval costume drama, there is a sense of royalty. Perhaps, as George likes to suggest we are all “emperors” with our new clothes. The way we see new arrivals is blinded by our own sense of perfection. The lace effect across the Prophet face resembles the fabric from a church as it does the tablecloth from “the Oasis” cafe. The identity of the migrant becoming as much what we project on top of them as who they really are.

 

 

 

 

Dreamer is a humorous brain piece. A strong fleshy pink color contrasts the human nature of the Dreamer to the more austere grays and blues of his brother the Prophet. There is a different slant on communication too. Whereas Prophet suggests a sense of almost of John the Baptist style ire, preaching outward to us sinners, in Dreamer the audience is literally looking inside the mind of a migrant. As George’s frantic lines in the cranium suggest, it is a head filled with both ideas and emotion. An ear pointing one way whilst the face is moving another means a life in a hurry to start. It also presents a strong need to keep traveling, whether to arrive at a destination quicker or to avoid being beaten up by unhappy locals.
Most contemporary art asks the viewer to leave their brain at the door so they can be “enlightened” by someone who knows more than they do. In these conditions a series of works on migration could quite easily become one of flag waving or flag burning.

 

 

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This exhibition is in sharp relief to the pseudo-intellectualism that presents itself on many gallery walls. George has a sense of humour, these are odd things to look at and he knows it. But being an oddity is what the migrant, and for that matter the human experience is all about. These paintings are conversations with the past. They don’t tell stories as much as they reacquaint us with people who should never be forgotten. If you enjoy a good landscape then this probably isn’t for you. But then again, maybe it is. These paintings show you the world from a broader perspective than just the artist or the critic. They urge us to be more, not just because they are clever, but we are too.

John Burns, March 2016

 

 

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A memory written by Geordie Williamson 2012

The small town in rural NSW where I grew up in the 1970s and 80s boasted a single milk bar, owned and operated by the only Greek family for 100 miles.

I remember it as an exemplary instance of that hallowed antipodean space: entered via a blowfly-baffling swish of plastic strips, beyond which ran counters of speckled laminate, generously stocked with Smiths chips and rolls of Lifesavers. Bevelled milkshake cups were stacked on one corner, beneath posters for Chiko Rolls and flavoured Moove faded to a palette of orange and brown by the heat.

The son of the owner, George Raftopolous, was in my year at the local public school. He was a lively boy who made friends easily, despite the overwhelmingly Anglo cast of the school community. His popularity was enhanced by the fact the family shop had the only video games in town. The boy’s father would load credits into Frogger for those mates of his son who called in of an afternoon.

Later, my family moved away. I was sent to boarding school and lost touch with my friend. It was only decades later, with the aid of Facebook, that we reconnected. The boy had grown up to become one this country’s most talented younger painters, and his abstract canvases, which made reference to Greek myth and graffiti with equal brio, woke my curiosity. When I Googled him, however, certain statements made a lie of my complacent memories. In interviews, the artist spoke of the sense of exile he felt in our country town. He recalled instances of overt racism. During four years in New York, the artist was considered “an Aussie”, he said in an online interview, but back in the central west “we were wogs”.

The disjunction between that Greek boy’s easy accommodation to the cultural norms of the country Australia of our childhood and his mature retrospection was inexplicable to me until I began to read other stories by migrants relating their experiences of arrival on these shores. His story turned out to be a familiar one, in which private hurt and confusion are hidden behind a mask of conformity. It turns out that the child who arrives from the global Elsewhere knows instinctively the deformations of self that will be required of them to fit in.

I am not a trained art critic but I acknowledge the ‘expressionistic fierceness’ that others have identified in his work. George’s paintings, vivid and monumental in the spirit of Picasso’s neoclassical mode, blend two registers: the Greek past, whether the archaic past or the the near-present Corfu from which his family emigrated; and a use of colour and line that recalls Australia’s monochrome emptiness, as well as the fluid lines of John Olsen. The result is once familiar and alien, elegant and disquieting, rigourous and anarchic.

His work, in short, dissolves the complexities and crudities of Anglo-Australian culture by embracing its contradictions. The Lebanese writer Ghassan Hage has written of returning to to his grandparents’ former home in Bathurst, NSW, not far from where George and I grew up. In the overgrown backyard he discovers a fig, a pomegranate and an olive tree – “the holy Mediterranean trinity, or one of them, at least” – that his homesick forebears planted decades before.

For Hage, these fruit trees don’t merely partake of a quintessentially Anglo obsession with backyards, a “marking and shaping and rooting oneself” in space. Rather it is the knowledge that these trees were planted by his grandfather’s hand that makes Hage feel, after long estrangement, “Australian”. The original act of planting is a historical rhyme that allows the author to embrace a paradox: a sense of rootedness that ‘does not mean a sense of being locked to the ground, unable to move’ but instead makes the author feel as if he suddenly sprouted wings.

Hage’s arboreal epiphany, with its sense of the importance of gesture and cultural recombination, reminded me of my schoolfriend’s paintings. Raftopolous’s art does not fetishise what Hage calls an “anti-colonial belonging, which pits the belonging of the colonised against that of coloniser while conserving colonialism’s either/or logic.’ Nor are these works explicitly postcolonial, prematurely judging colonial culture as something already superseded. Instead, Raftopolous counters ‘colonial culture from a space beyond it, showing that another mode of belonging is possible’.