Rage and fear power the composition, threatening to burst through the enforced stillness of the two figures and engulf the viewer. Jean-Michel Basquiat was born in Brooklyn on December 22, 1960, to parents from Haiti and Puerto Rico. There was a history of mental illness in his family, his mother having to be hospitalised. His relationship with his father was problematic. He ran away from home when he was thirteen and slept rough before being returned by the police. He was finally rejected by his father after dropping out of high school. He moved to Brooklyn, sofa surfing and supporting himself in any way possible.
In 1976 he worked as a graffiti artist with friend and fellow artist Al Diaz, using the tag SAMO (Same Old Shit). In 1978 the owner of Unique Clothing Warehouse, a clothing line, came on him tagging a building and offered him a job in his art department. He first came to public notice that year when Village Voice did a feature on his graffiti. In 1980 he met Andy Warhol in a restaurant. In 1981 he had his first solo show and an article about him entitled "Radiant" was published in Artforum. He became a star. He and Warhol collaborated on a number of projects. After Warhol’s death in 1987, he sank into depression. He died of a heroin overdose in his studio, August 12, 1988. Untitled (1982) was sold in May 2016 for $57.3 million dollars.
Untitled, (Two Heads on Gold) is Basquiat's response to the racism, which prevented him from becoming what he wished to be. His intense outsider graffiti style is a howl against the forces that contained and limited him. The level of energy in this work, and the variety of forms he used in his practice: found boards, stretched fabrics, wooden doors, rough sawn plywood sheets, demonstrate the intensity of his frustration with the cage of his life, the violence of his reaction to the tragedy of racism in America. Untitled, (Two Heads on Gold) takes the viewer into the heart of Basquiat’s violent, tortured genius.