The State of Art Today

Friday, May 19, 2017


THE QUESTIONS “what is art, what is art really worth, and what does beauty have to do with art?” are getting renewed attention with the announcement about the sale of this painting by Jean-Michael Basquait.

Whether you agree or not with the basis and conclusions of this critique in The Guardian, try giving this painting a long look. It is astonishing in many ways, including how it adheres to traditional methods of composition and color.

It is also beautiful once your eye adapts to—and starts to see beyond—the harsh blacks, the horrific skeleton face, the piercing hollow eyes, and the 3D world inside that gaping mouth.

Two things not directly related to “art” also make this work intriguing: that the artist never gave it a title to tell us what he had in mind, and that he died at age 27 from “heroin abuse.”

The real question, of course, is whether it is worth north of $110 (that’s one hundred and ten!) million.

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It is with life as it is with art: the deeper one penetrates, the broader the view.                   
~ Johann Goethe