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Urban Decay announce new Basquiat collection

The brand are selling products with shades and patterns inspired by the late artist’s work, fronted by model and actress Ruby Rose

Since his death in 1988, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s neo-expressionist art has inspired many exhibitions, pop culture references and research. Now, the post-punk graffiti artist has become an unexpected new posthumous collaborator with Urban Decay – teaming up with the makeup brand for a new collection.

As the artist’s work now sells for hundreds of millions of dollars, the brand is offering consumers a chance to own a piece of his art for a much lower price, with shades inspired by his artwork and cosmetic bags adorned with his famous designs.

Accompanying the “Art as makeup. Makeup as art.” tagline, the statement from Urban Decay reads: “Like Urban Decay, Jean-Michel Basquiat was an outsider who challenged the status quo and used colour in nontraditional ways. From his informal graffiti work and the way he mixed mediums and colours to the way he spoke out against social injustice, it's hard to imagine a more perfect fit for our brand.”

Model and OINTB actress Ruby Rose has been chosen as the face of the collection. As you could imagine, many are quick to point out that this may be a not-so-perfect fit for the legendary legacy of Basquiat. Since the late artist used his work to express his racial identity and social injustice, bringing marginalised voices to the forefront of a whitewashed art world, it does beg the question as to why the brand didn’t opt for a black ambassador for this particular line. The decision is already beginning to attract criticism:

An Urban Decay representative said: “Ruby Rose is the face of Urban Decay, not just Basquiat. Ruby is the first official face of the brand starting from Spring 2017 and in herself is a massive fan and advocate of Basquiat’s work.” No word yet on whether special attention was paid to ensure all colours are pigmented enough to work on various skin tones.