Art of the 20th Century


Art Styles in 20th century Art Map




Jean-Michel Basquiat


Jean-Michel Basquiat

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jean-Michel Basquiat (December 22, 1960, Brooklyn - August 12, 1988, New York, New York) was an American artist. He gained popularity, first as a graffiti artist in New York City, and then as a successful 1980s-era Neo-expressionist artist. Basquiat's paintings continue to influence modern day artists and command high prices.
Basquiat's mother, Matilde, was Puerto Rican and his father, Gerard Jean-Baptiste, is of Haitian origin and a former Haitian Minister of the Interior. Because of his parents' nationalities, Basquiat was fluent in French, Spanish, and English and often read Symbolist poetry, mythology, history and medical texts, particularly Gray's Anatomy in those languages. At an early age, Basquiat displayed an aptitude for art and was encouraged by his mother to draw, paint, and to participate in other art-related activities. In 1977, when he was 17, Basquiat and his friend Al Diaz started spray-painting graffiti art on slum buildings in lower Manhattan, adding the infamous signature of "SAMO" or "SAMO shit" (i.e., "same ol' shit"). The graphics were pithy messages such as "Plush safe he think; SAMO" and "SAMO is an escape clause". In December 1978, the Village Voice published an article about the writings. The SAMO project ended with the epitaph SAMO IS DEAD written on the walls of SoHo buildings.
In 1978, Basquiat dropped out of high school and left home, a year before graduating. He moved into the city and lived with friends, surviving by selling T-shirts and postcards on the street, and working in the Unique Clothing Warehouse on Broadway. By 1979, however, Basquiat gained a certain celebrity status amidst the thriving art scene of Manhattan's East Village, for his regular appearances on Glenn O'Brien's live public-access cable show, TV Party . In the late 1970s, Basquiat formed a band called Gray, with the then-unknown musician and actor Vincent Gallo. Gray played at clubs such as Max's Kansas City, CBGB, Hurrahs, and the Mudd Club. Basquiat worked with Gallo again in a film Downtown 81 (a.k.a New York Beat Movie) which featured some of Gray's rare recordings on its soundtrack. He also appeared in Blondie's video "Rapture" as a replacement for DJ Grandmaster Flash when he was a no-show.
Basquiat first started to gain recognition as an artist in June 1980, when he participated in The Times Square Show, a multi-artist exhibition, sponsored by Collaborative Projects Incorporated (Colab). In 1981, poet, art critic and cultural provocateur Rene Ricard published "The Radiant Child" in Artforum magazine, helping to launch Basquiat's career to an international stage. During the next few years, he continued exhibiting his works around New York alongside artists such as Keith Haring, Barbara Kruger, as well as internationally, promoted by such gallery owners and patrons as Annina Nosei, Vrej Baghoomian, Larry Gagosian, Mary Boone and Bruno Bischofberger.
By 1982, Basquiat was showing regularly alongside Julian Schnabel, David Salle, Francesco Clemente and Enzo Cucchi, thus becoming part of a loose-knit group that art-writers, curators, and collectors would soon be calling the Neo-expressionist movement. He started dating an aspiring and then-unknown performer named Madonna in the fall of 1982. In 1982, Basquiat met Andy Warhol, with whom he collaborated extensively, eventually forging a close, if strained, friendship. He was also briefly involved with artist David Bowes.
By 1984, many of Basquiat's friends were concerned about his excessive drug use and increasingly erratic behavior, including signs of paranoia. Basquiat had developed a frequent heroin habit by this point, starting from his early years living among the junkies and street artists in New York's underground. On February 10, 1985, Basquiat appeared on the cover of The New York Times Magazine in a feature entitled "New Art, New Money: The Marketing of an American Artist". As Basquiat's international success heightened, his works were shown in solo exhibitions across major European capitals.
Basquiat died of mixed-drug toxicity (he had been combining cocaine and heroin, known as "speedballing") in his Great Jones Street loft/studio in 1988 several days before what would have been Basquiat's second trip to the Cote d'Ivoire. After his death, a film biography entitled Basquiat was made, directed by Julian Schnabel, with actor Jeffrey Wright playing Basquiat.


Skull, 1981


Boy and Dog In A Johnnyjump, 1982






Rome Pays Off


Charles the First






In Italian
, 1983


, 1984




Worthy Constituants






Mona Lisa


The Dingoes


History of Black People


Icarus Esso








Horn Players


Love Dub for A




Per Capita




Fool's Fetish


Anatomy Five


The Field Next To the Other Road








Leonardo and his Five Grotesque Heads




Samo New York






Chicken Wing






Self Portrait




Jawbone of an Ass


Per Capita












Three Delegates


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