Hollywood Africans (1983) by Jean-Michel Basquait

Hollywood Africans - Jean-Michel Basquait - 1983

Artwork Information

TitleHollywood Africans
ArtistJean-Michel Basquait
Dimensions213.4 x 213.4 cm
Art MovementNeo-Expressionism
Current LocationWhitney Museum of American Art, New York

About Hollywood Africans

The artwork “Hollywood Africans” was created by Jean-Michel Basquiat in 1983. This work is an acrylic and crayon on canvas and is part of the Neo-Expressionism art movement. The dimensions of this piece are fairly large, measuring 213.4 cm by 213.4 cm. It can be classified as figurative art and is currently housed at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.

The artwork is a vibrant and texturally complex composition dominated by a bold yellow background. On this background, one can observe a cacophony of elements including an amalgamation of text, symbols, and figures. The texts are a mix of words and phrases like “Hollywood Africans,” “Tobacco,” “Sugar Cane,” and “Gangsterism,” all suggesting a commentary on the perception and representation of African Americans, especially in the context of 1940s Hollywood. The phrases are interwoven with seemingly random numbers such as “200 YEN” and icons that might be codes, brands, or labels pointing to consumerism and commodification.

There are three prominent figures or faces within the composition that stand out against the energetic scribbles, blocks of colors, and textual elements. These faces are stylized and abstract, embodying both caricature and graphic intensity, which is characteristic of Basquiat’s work. The figures appear to be engaged with the viewer and with each other, yet their expressions carry a sense of introspection or internal dialogue, providing a narrative quality to the piece.

Overall, “Hollywood Africans” appears as a potent social critique embedded within its vibrant visual language, reflecting Basquiat’s concerns with race, identity, and the commercialization of culture. The interplay of text, image, and color makes a strong visual statement that resonates with the viewer on multiple levels.

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