Jazz and the American mundane in Jean-Michel Basquiat’s writing


  • Ellen O'Donoghue Oddy




Jean-Michel Basquiat, Charlie Parker, jazz music, Beat literature, bebop


This article looks at the influence of jazz music-specifically bebop-in Jean-Michel Basquiat's use of the written word, arguing that the artist incorporates improvisation and dynamic rhythms to build a fragmentary stream of the everyday across his canvas. Looking towards Basquiat's graffiti, paintings and notebooks, this article will read Basquiat's works as jazz texts that rewrite the everyday, protest against social barriers, and reveal beauty in the mundane. This article will contextualize the musical and literary influences referenced across Basquiat's work, as well as the techniques he took from such influencers and used on the canvas. By positioning Basquiat within a literary canon, this article will also consider how the multi-formality of jazz enabled Basquiat to create works that were literary, musical, and painterly at once.

Author Biography

Ellen O'Donoghue Oddy

Ellen O'Donohue Oddy is a writer based in London, specializing in the intersectionof art and literature after the birth of the internet. During the Barbican exhibitionBasquiat: Boom for Real (2017-2018), Ellen ran exhibition tours looking at Basquiat'suse of language; she also ran a live spoken-word event and a writing workshop.


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How to Cite

O’Donoghue Oddy, E. (2020). ‘9-TO-5, WENT TO COLLEGE, NOT 2-NITE HOMEY BLUES’: Jazz and the American mundane in Jean-Michel Basquiat’s writing. Jazz Research Journal, 13(1-2), 19–32. https://doi.org/10.1558/jazz.37810