Basquiat: A Quick Killing in Art by Phoebe Hoban

Aristotle or Northrop Frye[or both] probably said something about dividing works of art into art that portrays heroes and art that portrays villains or noble and less noble characters. Without intending to, most of the biographies I’ve read portray noble characters.

Basquiat: A Quick Killing in Art is an exception. Basquiat was a gonorrhea giving, walking tornado who played mean tricks on people to compensate for their real or presumed exploitation of him. He swam in an art world fueled by money and greed. Throw in Andy Warhol, a classic colorless villain and what do you have-yuckiness.

Hoban’s work is solid journalistic style. The title is a clever summary: did Basquiat make the quick killing [he made and spent great sums of money on drugs] or did the art world [he died of a drug overdose]. Also, did Basquiat have talent? Robert Hughes, one of my cultural guideposts, thought no; I don’t remember what Gompertz said with his tolerance for modern art.[ Note-I checked-he didn’t mention Basquiat] I’ll tuck Basquiat in the back of my head for my next museum visit.

A PS from the 4/5 edition of the Wall Street Journal
“The Bar Keeps Rising for Basquiat” by Kelly Crow
“Asking prices have quadrupled over the past decade for Basquiat..”

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