Book Thug put me on to Jacob Wren (A Radical Cut in the Texture of Reality) who put me on to Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah (an essay in the Los Angeles Review of Books De origine actibusque aequationis: Rachel Jeantel, Rammellzee, Basquiat, and the Art of Being an Equation) which was the impetus for a search re crown iconography in Basquiat which led me to a review of Jordana More Saggesse Reading Basquiat: Exploring Ambivalence in American Art reviewed by Anton Stuebner at Art Practical: 13 matches for the word “crown” in Stuebner’s review which samples Saggasse’s explanations (mark of graffiti artists admiring the work of others; “kingship” in jazz culture; a reference to the end credits of Basquiat’s favorite cartoon, The Little Rascals, which featured a hand-drawn crown above the title card “King World Productions”). As Stuebner remarks
These motifs engage multiple discourses all at once, and Saggese suggests that all of these readings can exist simultaneously. At the same time, part of what makes Basquiat’s work so consistently fascinating—and even frustrating—is the lack of a one-to-one correspondence between symbols and predetermined values. In the constant search for authorship and empirical meaning, Saggese sees a critical imperative to decode every gesture and mark in painting as a possible sign unlocking larger contexts and narratives not readily apparent on the surface.
The paintings invite us to track the tags and with others leading the way the trail is open to circling back …
Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah quoting/sampling Jennifer Clement Widow Basquiat has two occurrences of “crown” in her article:
He paints, pauses, picks up a book or magazine and when he finds a word or sentence that he likes he paints it on the board or canvas. There are codes: The crown is the logo from the t.v. show “The Little Rascals.” He mixes Spanish and English […] He paints kings wearing black crowns covered in tar and feathers […] He writes “TAR” everywhere in thick dark strokes because, “I sometimes feel as black as tar.”
Reading as seen and heard here is not just about recognizing one sign but combining signs, linking, associating, pushing meaning to morph.
And so for day 1305