Head is a screen print in colours by Jean-Michel Basquiat, created in 1983. This image of this signed print is a visceral example of Basquiat’s imaginative blurring of the boundary between the internal and external body. At the same time that we see an outline of the certain features of the face, including the mouth and the ears, there is a void where the nose would usually be, suggesting a skull.
The rough blue lines which surround the top of the head appear like barbed wire. This is a head at once palpably alive and literally scared to death with its expression of shock and fear. The thick, curving lines inside the skull evoke folds of brain tissue whilst the use of red lines suggests veins, adding to the tension between the skull and the living, breathing body. The cacophonous clash of colour, line and shape is simultaneously deeply alive and evocative of an artificial life form taken from the pages of a gothic horror.
Even when not faithfully sketching body parts depicted in Gray’s Anatomy, Head is a clear example of the artist’s persistent return to images rooted in an interest in the structures which make up the human form.