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Kings of Egypt III

Kings of Egypt III

Jean-Michel Basquiat (in 1982)

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  • Lucie asked

    What is the artwork about?

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Hi Lucie,

    Kings of Egypt is a series of three paintings in which Basquiat invokes the power of the Egyptian kingdom and its rulers in a double metaphor. On the one hand, the absolutism and prestige of the Egyptian pharaohs (especially in reference to Ramses II in the second painting of the series, also in the Boijmans collection) often reconsidered by historiography as presumptuous and selfish, which Basquiat interprets to criticise contemporary society of the 1980s, destined like the pharaohs to collapse ruinously. The second interpretation that gives us a better understanding of the work is the result of the revisionist commitment of a politically active artist in the United States who analyses and challenges the political and social dichotomies of the time: specifically, in the Kings of Egypt series Basquiat intends to reclaim the narrative of the pharaohs as prestigious antecedents of Western and white culture and instead reconvey it as ancestral heritage of Black history.
    Visually, however, you can see how hieroglyphic-like symbols (in the upper right corner in particular) intersect with the striking impact of graffiti visual tradition.

    Best, Mara

  • Constantin Dragomir asked

    can it be seen today 16.04.2023?

  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen answered

    Hi Constantin, I just answered this together with your previous question: yes Kings of Egypt III is on show in room A3.08. Best, Els


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More information

Basquiat’s work was anchored in graffiti culture with its tags and street language, but he also referred to modern art, famous African Americans and his own background, often with a healthy dollop of social criticism. From 1980 Basquiat was a rising star in New York. In 1982 Delta was the first gallery to show his work in the Netherlands. Sonnenberg sees Basquiat as ‘a historical continuation in the line of Jean Dubuffet, Cobra and Willem de Kooning’.

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Collection book

Collection book Order


Title Kings of Egypt III
Material and technique Oil on canvas
Object type
Painting > Painting > Two-dimensional object > Art object
Location This object is in storage
Dimensions Height Error: 183,5 is not a valid BCD value cm
Width Error: 183,5 is not a valid BCD value cm
Depth Error: 4,5 is not a valid BCD value cm
Artists Artist: Jean-Michel Basquiat
Accession number 3687 (MK)
Credits Loan Stichting Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen. Gift Hans Sonnenberg, 2012
Department Modern Art
Acquisition date 2012
Creation date in 1982
Collector Collector / Hans Sonnenberg
Entitled parties © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. c/o Pictoright Amsterdam, 2022
Internal exhibitions Meneer Delta, een galeriehouder en verzamelaar in het museum (2012)
Lievelingen (2024)
External exhibitions Basquiat - The Artist and his New York Scene (2019)
Power Mask. The Power of Masks (2017)
Boijmans bij de Buren - Meesterlijk! (2019)
BASQUIAT. Of Symbols and Signs (2022)

All about the artist

Jean-Michel Basquiat

New York 1960 - New York 1988

Jean Michel Basquiat's mother was Puerto Rican and his father was of Haitian descent. In 1977, Basquiat began spraying graffiti on the walls of Manhattan, where...

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