Jean-Michel Basquiat's Horn Players

Horn Players

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acrylic and oilstick on three canvas panels mounted on wood supports
96 x 75 in. (243.8 x 190.5 cm)

About This Artwork

This painting is an homage to the great horn players Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. On the left is Parker with his alto saxophone and on the right is Gillespie with his trumpet. Both players are considered among the best jazz musicians ever, and their influential style of bebop resonates loudly throughout the history of modern jazz. Parker’s legendary jazz standard “Ornithology,” recorded in 1946, is referenced in the middle section of the painting. Jean-Michel Basquiat was an avid jazz listener and musician in his own right, and this work shows the relationship between his improvisational style of painting and the alchemy of jazz composition. In both art forms, there is an underlying structure or rhythm, while the melody — or in this case, Basquiat’s frenetic brushstrokes — floats and skitters around on top.