In 3 Views Of The Shoulder Joint Opened, we see the shoulder joint drawn from three different perspectives, suggestive of an x-ray examining a broken bone from a variety of angles. The placement of each ‘view’ side-by-side recalls a scientific textbook (most significantly Gray’s Anatomy, one of the artist’s primary influences) and has the effect of flattening the body parts, reducing and compartmentalising the three-dimensionality of the human body.
This apparent simplification of the shoulder joint could be interpreted as an attempt by the artist to rationalise the body’s complex workings. He was well aware of the physical limitations of his physical form as a result of suffering huge injuries in a car collision as a child, which required extensive surgery to remedy. This Anatomy print, although not entirely accurate in its anatomical depiction, demonstrates Basquiat's underlying fascination with the workings of the human body, which eventually became a crucial aspect of the artist's visual vocabulary.