Phoebe Hoban in Basquiat: A Quick Killing in Art reminds us that
It is significant that one of his favorite source books included a dictionary of hobo signs — and from it he took not only symbols but poetry. (“Nothing to be gained here.”)
Henry Dreyfuss. Symbol Sourcebook
Greg Tate in “Nobody Loves a Genius Child: Jean Michel Basquiat, Flyboy in the Buttermilk” alerts us to the importance of the words and symbols painted by Basquiat.
In the rush to reduce the word games found in Basquiat works to mere mimicry of Cy Twombly’s cursive scrawls, we’ve expected to forget that Basquiat comes from a people once forbidden literacy by law on the grounds that it would make for rebellious slaves. Expected to overlook as well that among those same people words are considered a crucial means to magical powers, and virtuosic wordplay pulls rank as a measure of one’s personal prowess. From the perspective of this split-screen worldview, where learning carries the weight of a revolutionary act and linguistic skills are as prized as having a knockout punch, there are no such things as empty signifiers, only misapprehended ones.
Flyboy in the Buttermilk: Essays on Contemporary America pp. 238-239.
Later in this article, Tate makes the point that “Black visual culture suffers less from a lack of developed artists than a need for popular criticism, academically supported scholarship, and more adventurous collecting and exhibiting.
Run search on “Black Visual Culture”.
And so for day 1286