There is a strange pause post-delivery. I look up from my prompt sheet at a row of faces staring back at me. They look stunned – I don’t quite know what to make of that strange wall of faces! Not disinterested, but somehow lost for words; as if that was not what they had expected, or it was difficult to know what to say.

However, once someone had spoken the conversation soon warmed and a lively backwards and forwards dialogue began.

I realise that people do not always understand that I carefully cover every point and that each detail is an important in my argument and researched with an open mind.

For instance, JMB research had begun with the idea of his use of language, I thought it was obscure, difficult to touch or make sense of; interesting for that. After a few hours of researching comments and opinions, interviews and press releases I began to see a pattern emerging in the way his family talked, JMB himself referred to his work and his story (which changed emphasis depending on who he was talking to) and various blogs by ordinary people who had encountered his work. I don’t think I specifically chose a white majority input nor was my opinion charged with supporting anyone opinion.

I think I did actually draw my own conclusion based on what I read and listened to and through a reasoned deep look at the work, JMB produced.

However, each encounter with the group makes me question the veracity of my writing – Am I unclear? Do I need to be more obvious perhaps?… Do I ask them to engage too deeply? Am I intense – Hmmmmmm Yes probably!!! LOL

Feedback comment:

  • I had been swayed by white middle-class opinion
  • I had misunderstood the idea of embodiment
  • That I was being judgmental or had missed the point

Maybe these are the outcomes – but I felt I researched JMB through his own and his families comment fairly and that I had drawn my own conclusions. I saw him as an artist who intended to get rich/famous through his art.


His art became an embodiment of that function. It spoke about his intelligence but in an overt way. He still wanted his clients to draw the right conclusion of his deeper thinking even if he presented them with a product that had market appeal; add to this his own qualification of his artwork in that “I can draw really well” and you have artwork which explained his intelligence, his talent and his need to be famous.

The definition of embodiment from the Oxford Dictionary:-


  1. a tangible or visible form of an idea, quality, or feeling.
  2. the representation or expression of something in a tangible or visible form.

On the first page of my presentation

Papa, I will be very, very famous one day.” J.M Basquiat

Basquiat created a structure which defined who he was. He choreographed a career producing a type of art which fulfilled his promise to himself and his father.

His art was a tangible representation of his desire to be famous (Object). It was an embodiment of his desire and therefore an embodiment of himself

It was, as far as the market was, and is, concerned good-bad art and JMB is now very famous indeed and is represented by the cannon across the world in museums and in private collections with a net worth in the millions.

I stand by my comments on the function of the artwork he produced and the drivers behind the collection. This argument stands alongside a study of the perceptual experience of his audiences and his use of language as a conduit for an experiential duality