Legend has it that 1982 was when Basquiat's career as an artist soared to greater heights. He wasn’t homeless nor peddling T-shirts and postcards anymore. Like many of Basquiat's paintings, the Guilt of Gold Teeth is characterized by a fusion of numbers, symbols, words and figures. This particular painting seems to show a contrast between being rich and poor. The Guilt of Gold Teeth has seven vivid colours, blue, orange, black, red, gold, green and white. It has a dark blue and carrot orange background with a slight hint of green to the left. The painting also has lots of symbols and words, but the one that sticks out the most is the dollar sign. Close to the middle, there lies a man that seems to blend in most of the colours. He has a black beaver hat, a white face, and his mouth is wide open, showing his gold teeth. His face seems circled in white, and from the look of his red stick legs and hands, he appears to be standing and uttering unknown words.
Basquiat’s rise to fame occurred in the dawn of Neo-expressionism, an art movement that erupted in the 1980s, ushering in a new wave of artists like Susan Rothenberg and Julian Schnabel. In fact, many regard Basquiat’s work as the epitome of Neo-expressionism art. Most of his paintings, the Guilt of Gold Teeth included, are characterized by vivid colours, violent brushwork, resonant symbols and brutish figures. They all fall into the category of Neoexpressionism art. The year 1982 was a very significant time for Jean-Michel Basquiat. It saw Basquiat paint approximately 200 artworks, Flexible, Untitled (Black Skull) and Warrior, to name a few. Basquiat drew a majority of his inspiration from his upbringing. Being a young black man in the 1980s, he used his art to criticize racism and colonialism. Other key figures thought to have inspired Basquiat are the boxers Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Robinson and the iconic jazz artist Dizzy Gillespie. Jean-Michel Basquiat is remembered for his Neo-expressionism style of painting. The Guilt of Gold Teeth is currently held in private collection.