We find an abstract figure central to the work, with thick paint then applied in a relaxed manner around the right hand side, reaching up to the top of the painting. The word Feet is then written in the bottom right hand corner and further detail is then drawn around and below the main portrait figure. Basquiat adds the label of Detail from Maid from Olympia in text, alongside a series of numbers. This feels overall like perhaps a modern take on an old Renaissance artwork, and we do know that Basquiat had studied European art in detail during his younger years. The obvious connection can therefore be made with Manet's Olympia, a famous Impressionist artwork which also featured an African figure which was relatively unusual for this period.
This young American helped to change the conversation across the art world and draw attention to certain social issues within the US at the time. He worked at a pace just as is the way for graffiti artists, and this speed also helped him in expressing himself across each artwork, almost delving into his subconscious mind and without evaluating his thoughts too much. This provided a raw output which was perfect for expressive art styles, something which had been seen for several centuries, albeit not quite in the stylistic manner as found here. Today we respect his work both for its technical brilliance but also in the way that he played a role in society in representing communities and getting across their concerns through a medium that many would now listed to and take on board, prompting change for the future.
The artist's highlights included King Alphonso, Bird on Money and Tuxedo. You will discover several themes which run through his career, as well as certain types of iconographic language which he also repeats. Those allow us to make sense of the chaotic world that he produced which perfectly reflected his own lifestyle, which sadly would eventually catch up with him. Rather than dwelling on what might have been, it is really more appropriate to celebrate the uniqueness of this artist, both in his style but also in the fame that he achieved from an alternative background to the white middle classes which have tended to dominate the art world across the 20th century. The themes of his work such as social justice are as important now as ever, meaning a new vigour has arisen in the promotion and discussion of this artist's career.