"If someone asks for an explanation of a work of art, there's no point in answering, because they'll be too dull to understand" - Egon Schiele
They could not have been more different.
He, a rejecter of rules (and laws) and the prodigy of Klimt, born in Austria.
The other, an African-American shape shifter who put New York, jazz, and boxers on his canvas.
Egon and Schiele and Jean-Michele Basquait were both on board the floating glass ship of the Foundation Luis Vuitton, its sails pregnant with the crisp December winds. One was hip hop and texture, remixed portraits and words on repeat. Big... bright...bold. The other was all about stretched limbs, nudes of Wally, of men, of children (of everyone it seems) in soft curves and sometimes, angular cuts. One bringing uptown to down-town in style and message. The other bringing down-town to uptown in form and expression.
(Is art less significant if you feel like you could do the same with a big enough canvas? And so why haven't you? Why haven't you?)
This artistic trip was the same weekend as viewing Forgiven, a film about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Desmond Tutu and a man who, by his own account, is unforgivable.
I liked the film.
Then I read the reviews.
Like a two punch knock-out, they laid it bare and cast it aside - too manipulative, too focussed on the lens of the murderer, and overlooking the real, all encompassing evil of apartheid; too much reducing Desmond Tutu to bumper sticker platitudes.
I liked the film but now I had a layer of film critic context. OK. I still like the film but you make good points, I thought.
But with Jean-Michele Basquait, the explanation of the pieces felt like myths to add meaning that just wasn't there. It felt contrived. Like another painting over the painting.
Just let it be.
Sometimes an artist just wants to use a colour because he likes it.
Sometimes there is no deeper meaning.
Sometimes it's just art and it doesn't need an explanation.