Art Stroll: Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks

Written by Nathalie Kalbach. Posted in Art Stroll


My friend Karen and I went on an art stroll recently and checked out the Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum. Rene Ricard, an American poet, art critic and painter once said: “If Cy Twombly and Jean Debuffet had a baby and gave it up for adoption it would be Jean-Michel. The elegance of Cy Twombly is there …and so is the brut of the young Debuffet”. I can see that – and I am drawn to all three of those artists.


Basqiuat stated once that he uses words like brushstrokes. They are visual key elements of his artwork. He explored strategies such as inverted spelling, crossing out certain words and the repetition of text in his notebooks, which were the highlight of this exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum.


Basquiat used words not only for their descriptive quality – he would also use them for their lyrical qualities.


He emphasized repeating words and letters for their sounds and meaning.


Basquiat produced a huge number of notebooks. Some of the pages only contain one sentence or word and he generally left the opposite side of each page blank.



One of the things Basquiat said about his own artwork stuck to me the most: “I cross out words so you will see them more. The fact that they are obscured makes you want to read them.”




I also loved is use of collage elements and mark making.



His works are often fragments of overheard conversations or isolated phrases – like the one below. Used in different contexts these conversation pieces or phrases can activate a wide and complex range of possible narratives – how intriguing.


The work shown in the exhibition wasn’t his most colorful work – which I am usually more drawn too but the pages with words and little scribbles and drawings used for the background were so compelling and interesting, I couldn’t stop looking at them.


I felt very inspired by this exhibition and will show you soon how I translated some of this inspiration into my own work.


By the way, if you like Jean-Michel Basquiat and haven’t seen the Movie “Radiant Child” yet – I highly recommend it. It is a wonderful homage to Basquiat and also a great document of the 80s New York City art scene.

Do you keep a notebook where you jot down ideas for your art work? For me my notebook is my art journal as this is where ideas are tested out and noted ready to maybe taken out for bigger surfaces later.

Hope you enjoyed this art stroll!




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  • Sue Clarke


    So true about wanting to read the crossed out words.
    The page with “sometime” on it really struck me for some reason. Maybe I saw it as a prompt to certain thoughts.
    I have several notebooks which contain words that I consider noteworthy (one for quotes that I like and one that I carry in my purse to jot down ideas or thoughts that I want to capture).
    Hope you have a nice Labor Day weekend Nat!


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Attention or… In My Art Journal Today

Written by Nathalie Kalbach. Posted in Art Journal


Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity – Kurt Weil


The page spread I used for this, was covered with different colors and and some collage from a class demo and I wasn’t super keen on keeping it, so I covered the page up with black gesso, giving it a nice smooth black coating. Then I pulled out my Stampendous n*Studio Fiesta stamp set and a white Ink pad and created some pattern repeatedly stamping each individual stamp in clusters – kind of forming a drop curtain.


I also used the stencils and mask included in the stamp set and outlined the man and woman silhouette with a white Signo pen, then added some color with Derwent Artbars inside and blended the colors with a waterbrush. I love the effect of the Artbars (water-soluble wax bars) on top of the black gesso. For the quote I simply dipped my bamboo sketching pen into white acrylic Ink and kept writing.

It was fun – and I love how the white pops off the black and I had lot’s of fun using the stamps in this way.

Here is a supply list


Are you doing lot’s black and white themed art journal pages? I feel drawn to it although I am a total color gig 😉



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  • Joi@RR


    This is a WONDERFUL new take with your FIESTA stamp set Nat. Love how you made them look like curtains around the folks. It looks like they are inside their living room chatting with a planter of flowers under their window!!!! The FIESTA set is my fav so this was a great way to start my morning with it and you! Hugs. j.


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Artist Quote of the Week – Henri Matisse

Written by Nathalie Kalbach. Posted in Artist Quotes / Artist Inspiration

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  • Barb


    All artists quotes mean more to those are really and truly have great talent like you and can understand the meaning of the quotes.
    Sending you this. I enjoy him so much. Amazing talent.
    Thanks for sharing


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