We immediately spot a single head in abstract form whose style is similar to that of African sculpture. It sits in the top right hand corner, oversized, and with eyes and a mouth that glow in bright tones of red and yellow. There is then a sitting elephant across on the left hand side which is a more surprising addition. At the bottom we find a shepherd with a donkey, perhaps a religious reference. There are then further scrawls across the artwork, all of which would have been carefully considered and planned, even though the style used by Basquiat appears chaotic and without a plan. Lettering then appears which helps us to make sense of all this, though in this case we are still left a little unsure about the connection between these elements and the overall title of the piece, Melting Point of Ice.
Basquiat played an important role in the rise to prominence of American art through its success within the overall umbrella of Abstract Expressionism. He was one of a number of New York-based artists who provided a new avenue for modern art and also encouraged some more traditionally-minded academics and art followers of the merits of these new and alternative approaches. There was then a unique element specific to Basquiat in the content of his work which itself was inspired by his own background which was alternative to most of his colleagues in a number of different ways. He would ultimately produce an important oeuvre which cannot easily be compared to anything else from that era, even though he spent time in the company of many other artists.
One can study the likes of Untitled Boxer, King Alphonso and Tuxedo in order to target certain symbols and meanings which continue across a number of this artist's works, both in his drawings and paintings. These two mediums would actually have a considerable cross-over because of the ways in which he worked, using mixed media that combined the two in many cases. He would work from a variety of studios in order to put together some huge murals that allowed him to express the full emotion and creativeness which existed within this complex individual. His problems would fuel his work, and without them he would not have been as successful as he was. Even today his paintings help to draw our attention to societal issues which we might otherwise have chosen to turn a blind eye to, prefering the comfort of our own settled lives.