Jean-Michel Basquiat’s work functions in similar way to Cy Twombly’s; the canvas becomes more like a giant notebook page than a finished composition, with words and images, along with scratch marks and other artifacts of the thought process, intermingling freely as a pictorial representation of a train of thought. The work is really a portrait of Basquiat; what he is thinking about, who his influences are, he wears them all on the surface of his canvas like a patch on his sleeve. René Ricard sums it up beautifully later in the article:
When Jean-Michel writes in almost subliterate scrawl “Safe plush he think” it is not on a Park Avenue facade that would be totally outside the beggar’s venue but on a rusted-out door in a godforsaken neighborhood. Plush to whom safe from what? His is also the elegance of the clochard who lights up a megot with his pinkie raised. If Cy Twombly and Jean Dubuffet had a baby and gave it up for adoption, it would be Jean-Michel. The elegance of Twombly is there but from the same source (graffiti) and so is the brut of the young Dubuffet. Except the politics of Dubuffet needed a lecture to show, needed a separate text, whereas in Jean-Michel they are integrated by the picture’s necessity. I’d rather have a Jean-Michel than a Cy Twombly. I do not live in the classical city. My neighborhood is unsafe.