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Irony of the Negro Policeman

Jean-Michel Basquiat

Irony of the Negro Policeman

Jean-Michel Basquiat
  • Original Title: Irony of the Negro
  • Date: 1981
  • Style: Neo-Expressionism, Street art
  • Genre: figurative
  • Media: acrylic, crayon, canvas
  • Dimensions: 183 x 122 cm

Basquiat’s Irony of Negro Policeman is a sharp critique on members of his own race. By depicting a Negro policeman, he is making a conscious effort to show how African-Americans are controlled by the white majority in America. Basquiat found it utterly ironic that any African-American would be a policeman, working to enforce rules that were meant to enslave themselves. The figure in the paintings is a totalitarian black mass, with a mask-like face and hat resembling a cage. On the right of the painting are the words “Irony of Negro Policeman,” and to the bottom right of the panting is the word “Pawn,” clearly stating Basquiat’s opinion on the ridiculous position of a Negro Policeman.

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