Urban Decay's Basquiat Inspired Capsule Collection Is Here, But Is the Campaign Culturally Sensitive?

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled, 1981, acrylic and oilstick on canvas, 81 x 69 1/4 in.,
Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled, 1981, acrylic and oilstick on canvas, 81 x 69 1/4 in., | © The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat / ADAGP, Paris / ARS New York 2015, Photo by Douglas M. Parker Studio, L.A.

Fans of Jean-Michel Basquiat will want to cop this “SERIOUSLY limited-edition collection,” a 12-piece makeup line inspired by the art and life of the artist, released April 20, by Urban Decay. Basquiat is having a major moment right now, as Sotheby’s New York just announced that the May auctions will likely set new records with the sale of a 1982 Basquiat painting, which the auction house predicts will sell for over $60 thousand, according to Artnet.

The new 12-piece makeup set pays homage to the artist with bright hues and vibrant juxtapositions of color Basquiat’s art is known for. Products are named to tap into the artist’s mindset, with lip and eye pencils called “anatomy,” “vivid,” and, “post punk.” However, the launch of the Basquiat x Urban Decay collaboration is somewhat tainted by parent company L’Oreal’s choice in Ruby Rose as the face of the campaign. In fact, the internet had a lot to say about the campaign foregoing a woman of color to launch the Basquiat x Urban Decay capsule collection.
Why the fuck are y’all getting a white woman to be part of honouring Basquiat, a legendary BLACK artist? Who Tf approved of this? https://t.co/OVOjAUcgaW — boqor riya. (@hausofriya) March 15, 2017

If you know Basquiat’s work and what he stood for – having his art splayed on a makeup line for corporate profit is awfully out of touch — Astrology by Mecca (@TheMeccanism) March 15, 2017
Women of color are under-represented in beauty campaigns as it is, according to The Huffington Post. So, it’s understandable that there’s frustration when L’Oreal decided to go with Rose as the face of the campaign that’s celebrating an African-American artist. True, Rose is known for her punk aesthetic and has a tattoo of Basquiat on her arm. But more importantly, Basquiat is internationally known as one of the 20th century’s greatest artists because of his brilliant authenticity in visually tackling issues of disenfranchisement, systemic racism, and consumer society.

Basquiat x Urban Decay Capsule Collection

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Ruby Rose as the face of the campaign

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One can’t help but wonder what the artist himself would say about the campaign and the limited edition collection itself.

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