Basquiat's Defacement

Jean-Michel Basquiat painted Defacement (The Death of Micahel Stewart) on the wall of Keith Harring's studio in 1983 to commemorate the death of a young, black artist who died from injuries sustained while in police custody after being arrested for allegedly tagging a wall in a New York City subway station. Defacement, Basquait's private response to a tragedy that entered the collective consciousness of the entire city, serves as the centerpiece for this volume, which explores a formative chapter in the artist's career through both the lens of his identity and the Lower East Side as a nexus of activism in the early 1980s. The book contextualizes Defacement alongside a selection of other Basquiat works that address antiblack racism and police brutality, as well as artworks made by other artists in response to Stewart's death, including George Condo, David Hammons, Keith Harring, Lyle Ashton Harris, and Andy Warhol.

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