Back in December, the Brooklyn Nets released their 2020-21 City Edition Uniforms which pay tribute to the late artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. Kevin Durant (a forward on the Nets) is a big fan of Basquiat’s work, so that may be where the design inspiration came from! The Nets released that not only would the uniforms be Basquiat-inspired, but so would the Barclays Center court. I unintentionally witnessed the debut of the new court design, so I wanted to share a bit about it!
Since I don’t really keep up with basketball, I unknowingly watched the first game with the new court design. All of a sudden, the commentators were talking about the new style of the uniforms and court! I knew I had to look into it more. I briefly learned about Jean-Michel Basquiat, but didn’t remember much about him when I was watching the game. I could remember that he specialized in street art and had lots of symbolism in his work, but that was about it! After looking into him more to jog my memory, I wanted to share some of his story and work to see how the court reflects elements of his designs.
Jean-Michel Basquiat was a Neo-expressionist American artist of Puerto Rican and Haitian descent. In his short but wildly successful career in the 1970s and 80s, his work in primarily graffiti and street art drew lots of attention. His art was overtly political and criticized many dichotomies of life, including integration verses segregation, wealth verses poverty, and the inner verses outer experience. It was a blend of appropriated poetry, drawing, and painting that were abstracted and combined with historical information, social commentary, and figuration. Basquiat’s art is still quite relevant today, as he commented a lot on systemic racism and his own experiences as a member of the Black community. Not to mention how much of a legacy he left in the art world!! Basquiat truly is legendary.
Here are some promotional pictures of the Barclays Center court and uniforms:
Here is some of Basquiat’s work:
There are three main elements of Basquiat’s work present in the court design: the colors, loose brushwork, and crown symbol. The color scheme of predominantly reds, blues, blacks, and yellows within Basquiat’s art is echoed in the Nets’ designs. The appearance of a loose application of paint on the court is reminiscent of the loose brushwork in his graffiti and street style paintings. Especially reminiscent is the lettering of BKLYN NETS! The main symbol pulled from Basquiat’s paintings is the crown, which has been widely interpreted to represent himself as a king and associate him with people he considered to be kings. It can be seen on both sides of the court as well as on the shorts of the players’ uniforms, which could be interpreted to mean that these players are kings as well!
This was such a cool find! I hope you found it as interesting as I did. Have a great week!