The vibrant Back Of The Neck features large, warped impressions of a muscular body in stark colours against the piece’s black background. In opposition to the isolated, labelled images of body parts in the Anatomy series, Back Of The Neck compresses different parts of the body together, such as the fusing of a neck and an arm in an uncomfortable union, each disproportionately drawn.
Back Of The Neck features a particularly ironic use of the copyright sign, heightening Basquiat’s always subversive use of the symbol. On this subject, Leonard Emmerling notes: “Far more ambiguous than the crown is the copyright sign, which in its direct function touches upon ownership and the valuation thereof. Painted on the walls of other people’s buildings, it not only demonstrated SAMO’s authorship but generally questioned the idea of legality itself, like all sprayed tags turning anonymity into an open profession and claiming a formal legal protection for an activity that in reality remained illegal”.
There is perhaps nothing more ludicrous than a copyright sign attached to the human form itself. Less humorous, however, is the suggestion of a dehumanised, commodified body implied by the imposition of the copyright sign in this context.