Academic Study Of The Male Figure features a drawing of a male body as well as depictions of muscles and bones in isolation. The way in which various body parts are brought into chaotic proximity recalls da Vinci’s anatomical sketches. With his Anatomy series, Basquiat appears to carry the torch of the artists who followed the call made by theorist Leon Battista Alberti, who encouraged artists to depict the body as it appears in nature, rather than already-clothed.
Elements of the image transform before the viewer’s eyes. Subverting this focus on the body are the annotations that encroach on the body itself, such as the text reading ‘pecho’ on the figure’s abdomen. Body hair morphs into bubbles produced from rinso soap alongside flashes reading ‘NEW’, recalling the dark parodic edge of the artist’s canvas ‘Rinso’. ‘Goosefoot’ is crossed out - on the prevalence of crossing out in his works, Basquiat has noted: “Sometimes I just want to retract it. It might stick out a little too much - the words. So a line blends it into the rest of the painting at times.”