BASQUIAT

BASQUIAT

Michelle and I are out for coffee and lunch at a cafe in Subiaco. For such a wet and miserable day, it’s surprisingly busy here. There’s a constant clatter of plates and cups from the kitchen area, the rush and gurgle of the espresso machine, and a background hum of people chatting. It’s quite pleasant, and although noisy, I haven’t had to resort to my noise-cancelling headphones just yet. I have them with me, just in case.

On a giant TV screen is a series of news headlines, and among those is a piece about the sale in New York of a work of art by Basquiat, which has just sold for a truly colossal sum of money, eclipsing the amount for which a Warhol sold for some years back. The Basquiat picture shows a highly stylised head, but it looks to me like a picture of madness, rage, death and destruction. You can’t easily tell if the figure in the picture is victim or perpetrator or perhaps both, caught in a cycle. In broader terms it seems like a picture of the times we live in now, and I wonder if that very zeitgeisty aspect of the thing is why it’s just sold for so much money. Because these days that face could be reading the news on a cable channel and nobody would think twice about it.

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