Urban Decay has just announced it’s forthcoming collection and reactions are mixed.
The newest collection, which will launch in the US on 20 April, is inspired by the life and work of iconic neo-expressionist artist, Jean-Michel Basquiat. He gained fame in the 80s for his provocative graffiti and no holds barred use of colour, using art as social commentary on issues such as race and consumerist culture in America. Sadly, Basquiat passed away at 27 years old from a heroin overdose.
The cult makeup brand is known for it’s colourful, daring and innovative collections, and this time is no different. Visually, the collection is stunning, and includes two eyeshadow palettes, three eye pencils, one blush palette, three lipsticks, and three cosmetic bags, all wrapped in replica’s of Basquiat’s artworks, including his iconic crown.
“Like Urban Decay, Jean-Michel Basquiat was an outsider who challenged the status quo and used color in nontraditional ways. From his informal graffiti work and the way he mixed mediums and colors to the way he spoke out against social injustice, it’s hard to imagine a more perfect fit for our brand,” Urban Decay says on their website.
Some people are super excited about the collection:
Excited for the urban decay collab with Jean Michel Basquiat!!!
— Azeneth?? (@JoyceAzeneth) March 19, 2017
This Basquiat Urban Decay collection WILL run me for my money. I need it. All of it.
— Jellene Isabel (@jelleneisabel) March 19, 2017
Urban Decay launched a Basquiat collection and I'm dyingggggg wanting everything just for the packaging. ? pic.twitter.com/5J4S5OU36N
— ? (@annemreyes) March 18, 2017
Urban Decay is marketing the collection as a homage to the artist, but despite this, people are calling them out, primarily because they believe the beauty brand is profiting off the work of a dead man who has no say in how his work is reused and reimagined.
re: Basquiat collection
i understand that consumerism is what brands are built on but pic.twitter.com/kB5rY953wp
— goth gee eff (@fallopiannoobs) March 17, 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
Urban Decay is bottom of the barrel capitalist trash. How they're redefining Basquiat's identity to fit their marketing agenda is nauseating pic.twitter.com/kFH4zqf4A9
— ….SJAP…. (@FruittiLoopz) March 18, 2017
But above all else, it is the face of the collection, actress Ruby Rose, who is causing the most controversy. People are finding it difficult to accept that Urban Decay didn’t opt to use a person of colour to promote the collection.
Jean Michel Basquiat was a black man who often felt exploited at the hands of the white commercial art institution https://t.co/bEcRoIwEXV
— mulan in milan (@holy_wuu) March 16, 2017
how do u think basquiat would really feel about the urban decay collab? especially since ruby rose is the face of it and not a black artist
— ™ (@tristan_jpg) March 17, 2017
Who's idea was it to put Ruby Rose as the frontwoman for a Basquiat exhibit?? Like…there were no black people you could think of?? None???
— nap lord (@oculat) March 16, 2017
urban decay really out here having a white girl modeling the basquiat line when his art is all about POC representation,,,, quite offensive
— ALEX (@flowerwimp) March 18, 2017
I see that @UrbanDecay has not only launched a Basquiat collection but couldn't be arsed to have a Black person as the face of the campaign.
— Dr. Lucia Lorenzi (@empathywarrior) March 18, 2017
So far, Urban Decay has not commented on the controversy.