Jean Michel Basquiat
‘I want to make paintings that look as if they were made by a child.’
The energetic, frantic nature of being a child was often expressed in the work of Jean Michel Basquiat. Famous for his expressive brushwork and bold colour, he admired and was inspired by the artwork of kids more than that of the elitist art world.
We have added to our Black Lives Matter, Little People Big Dreams series - a collection of kids’ books celebrating influential black figures often forgotten in the history we are told. Basquiat recognised black people were not seen in American art history, and so in his work aimed to celebrate these forgotten figures.
Michael Stewart was just one black man that Basquiat wanted to be remembered. His piece ‘Defacement: The Death of Michael Stewart’ acts as a reminder of the police brutality that was rife then and continues to this day. The piece commemorates the young, black artist Michael Stewart, who was murdered by police in the streets of New York.
'Defacement: The Death of Michael Stewart'
Racism still persists; it is deeply entrenched, systemic and built into the foundations of our society. But there is hope in resistance. Art and literature is a particularly important way of resisting; as Basquiat proves, it has the power to act as a reflection of reality and lived experiences, but it is also a way to imagine what our future can look like.
We have to educate a new generation to be anti-racist, so that they can build a fairer, safer and more equal future.
100% of profits from the sales of the Black Lives Matter book series will be donated to two UK based anti-racist charities:
Show Racism The Red Card - An anti-racist educational charity which uses the high-profile status of football and footballers to educate and inform, in an aim to tackle racism in the UK. Their campaign provides workshops to young people and adults in schools and the workplace.
Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust - Set up after the tragic death of teenager Stephen Lawrence who was murdered in a racist attack in 1993. The charity is dedicated to creating a fairer society and recognises that young people, still today, struggle to succeed because of factors beyond their control. They work with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and aim to provide them with knowledge and skills which will help them prosper in their career of choice. They also work with communities and businesses to encourage them to engage in the creation of a more equal, fairer society, where everyone has a chance to thrive and be treated with the respect that they deserve.
An Excerpt from Jean Michel Basquiat - Little People Big Dreams