Hailing from New York City, Basquiat is as famous for the paintings that he exhibited in US galleries as he is for the street art that he sprayed all over Manhattan as part of the renowned graffiti duo named SAMO.
Boxer is a painting that depicts a huge, hulking boxer. The huge, black body of the boxer fills the page and his hands are raised in victory. This is an art work that clearly depicts the triumph of physical strength.
Abstract, geometric shapes on the boxer's body and (in particular) on his face, also give him a somewhat inhuman look. Has he, in cultivating strength and the ability to fight, lost something of his humanity?
Basquiat has picked out the boxer's muscles in dazzling white strokes, and the bold lines and vivid sense of energy in this art work are typical of Basquiat's neo-expressionist style.
Boxing is a very important theme in Basquiat's life and work. There is a famous series of black and white photos in existence which depict Basquiat alongside the famous pop artist Andy Warhol.
In this photographs, Basquiat and Warhol are playfully engaging with each other whilst wearing boxing gloves. In one photograph, for example, Warhol pretends to aim a punch at Basquiat's head whilst Basquiat stands in a strong pose, not too dissimilar to that of the eponymous boxer in this art work. This begs the question: how far does the artist identify with his subject in 'Untitled (Boxer)'?
The emphasis on this painting on the central figure means that it can be compared to another painting by Basquiat: Untitled (Fallen Angel). In Untitled, (Fallen Angel), Basquiat depicts a fallen angel in a pose that resembles that of the boxer.
The abstract depiction of the angel's features, and the abstract shapes on the angel's body, recall the above mentioned geometric patterns with which the boxer's body is emblazoned.
The similarity between these two art works suggests that, perhaps, for Basquiat that was a similarity between the two figures of the boxer and the fallen angel.
However it is interpreted, though, there is no denying that 'Untitled (Boxer)' is one of Basquiat's more complex works, especially when compared to drawings such as Tuxedo, which consist of just a single, simple yet powerful symbol.