Advanced Search

K-12 Educator
K-12 Student
Museum Visitor
UMMA Docent
UMMA Staff
University Faculty
University Student
Between and Mortarboard


UMMA Object Specific Fields






Query builder

A Lie

Accession Number
1985/2.18

Title
A Lie

Artist(s)
Jean-Michel Basquiat

Artist Nationality
American (North American)

Object Creation Date
1981

Medium & Support
colored crayons on paper

Dimensions
24 in x 18 in (60.96 cm x 45.72 cm);24 in x 18 in (60.96 cm x 45.72 cm);28 in x 23 in (71.12 cm x 58.42 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Arthur Cohen in honor of Ben and Yetta Cohen

Label copy
Gallery Rotation Fall 2011
Jean-Michel Basquiat
United States, 1960–1988
Thousands of Dollars
1981
Graphite on paper
Gift of Arthur Cohen in honor of Ben and Yetta Cohen, 1985/2.17
Mother©
1981
Graphite on paper
Gift of Arthur Cohen in honor of Ben and Yetta Cohen, 1985/2.18
A Lie
1981
Colored crayon on paper
Gift of Arthur Cohen in honor of Ben and Yetta Cohen, 1985/2.19
Jean Michel Basquiat first gained attention as a graffiti artist in the late 1970s, signing his work SAMO© (short for “same old shit,” followed by the copyright symbol). Unlike the wild, colorful stylings of his contemporaries, the teenaged Basquiat tagged the walls and surfaces of New York City with such enigmatic messages as “SAMO© AS AN END TO MINDWASH RELIGION, NOWHERE POLITICS, AND BOGUS PHILOSOPHY” and “(SAMO©) A PIN DROPS LIKE A PUNGENT ODOR…” SAMO©’s writings were only occasionally accompanied by images, but they formed the foundation of Basquiat’s artistic practice, in which short fragments of text are combined with enigmatic renderings of everyday objects and symbols that function like pictographs. For Basquiat, language never performed the subsidiary role of caption or subtitle. He described the words he injected into his work as “brushstrokes,” suggesting an equivalence between textual and visual representation. In the three early drawings on view here, language is used elliptically, suggesting new relationships rather than explaining existing ones.

Subject matter
Expanding on his beginnings as a graffiti artist, this work represents several works in which Basquiat engaged with text and image. Here, the images of breakfast food are presented under the heading "A LIE."  Basquiat challenged the core essences of these objects in a context, which defies everyday expectations.

Physical Description
This is a line drawing done in colors of red, orange, blue, yellow, brown and green, on white paper. In the top center portion of the sheet are the words, "A LIE". Below this are forms that resemble an egg, a slice of bacon, a piece of bread with a pat of yellow butter. Below these forms are some round shapes, labeled "flakes", a bowl and a carton of milk, labeled "milk".

Primary Object Classification
Drawing

Collection Area
Modern and Contemporary

Rights
If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form.

Keywords
African American
Text-based Art
bowl
bread
breakfasts
graffiti artists
milk
modern and contemporary art
words

95 Related Resources

Absence
(Part of 5 Learning Collections)
Advertising
(Part of 5 Learning Collections)
F12 Howard - AMCULT 103 - Understanding Everyday Life
(Part of: Teaching American Studies at UMMA)
F13 Gunckel - AMCULT 335 - Arts and Culture in American Life
(Part of: Teaching American Studies at UMMA)
Celebrity
(Part of 9 Learning Collections)
Children and Childhood
(Part of 7 Learning Collections)
Dada and Neo-Dada
(Part of 5 Learning Collections)
Food Cultures
(Part of 4 Learning Collections)
W15 Levinson - COMPLIT 122 - Insiders and Outsiders
(Part of: Teaching American Studies at UMMA)
History of New Media 
(Part of 4 Learning Collections)
Race, Gender, Class, and American Identity
(Part of 10 Learning Collections)
Satire
(Part of 4 Learning Collections)
Speaking With and Without Words
(Part of 2 Learning Collections)
TV Culture and Criticism
(Part of 6 Learning Collections)
Visual Forms of the Avant Garde - a survey
(Part of 3 Learning Collections)
Visual Narratives
(Part of: Visual Narrative)
Whiteness in the Collection
(Part of 2 Learning Collections)
Docent Materials for Collection Ensemble: The Reimagined Apse
(Part of: Docent Information From Training Continuing Education Sessions)
Causes of Disease
(Part of: AAHM)

& Author Notes

All Rights Reserved