The Life and Art of Jean-Michel Basquiat

Hello Beautiful Thinkers,

basquiat_sig_335I’m looking at the life and art of Jean-Michel Basquiat today.  He was an artist that took the 80s by storm, but sadly died when he was only 27 years old.  Basquiat was born on December 22, 1970 in Brooklyn to Gerard, a Haitian-American father, and Matilde, a Puerto Rican mother.  His diverse background was a major inspiration in his art.  He started drawing at an early age on sheets of paper that his father brought home from work.

tumblr_lwujhtmnxL1qmi5x5o1_1280Basquiat received no formal art training, and in fact didn’t even finish high school.  He dropped out at age 17 with only one year left, and started doing graffiti along with his friend Al Diaz.  The two created the signing name SAMO© standing for Same Old Shit.  When the two went their separate ways, the last tag “SAMO© is dead” was spray-painted around lower Manhattan.  By 1978 Basquiat left home and was selling hand-painted postcards and t-shirts.

posterlux-basquiat_jean_michel-clio_team_1981_j_m_basquiat_acque_pericolose_acrylique_crayon_gras_et_spray_sur_toile_167_5x244_cm_princeton_university_art_museum_collection_the_schorr_familyIn 1980 his work was featured in a group show where it gained critical acclaim for the mix of words, symbols, stick figures, and animals.  From that point on Basquiat was on the rise.  His success came along side a wave of other young, experimental artist in the Neo-Expressionism art movement.  It wasn’t long before his paintings were selling for $25,000-$50,000.  Along with financial success he soon found himself collaborating with Andy Warhol, with whom he formed a close friendship.  Even though none of their collaborations gained the acclaim that their respective individual work received, the pair continued to work together on projects until Warhol’s death.

Jean-Michel BasquiatIt wasn’t long after Warhol passed that Basquiat died from an overdose.  Though he was very affected by his friend’s death it wasn’t the cause of his drug use.  It was well known that his friends worried about his drug use.  He tried to kick his addiction to heroine in 1988 by leaving New York for Hawaii.  A few months later he returned claiming he was sober.  Unfortunately he was tempted again when he came back, and on August 12, 1988 he suffered a fatal overdose.

When I first looked at his paintings I thought they were a hot mess.  But the longer I looked at each piece the more I grew to appreciate the words and symbols that are featured in the paintings.  His work still isn’t my favorite, but I can understand how the fresh style became popular so quickly.  His paintings are still sold for millions of dollars; the record price for one of his paintings was $16.3 million as of 2012.  Even if Jean-Michel Basquiat isn’t your flavor, looking at his art you’ll definitely see that he had his share of influence on the art world.

photoKeep Learning Beautiful Thinkers,

The Boy In The Heart Shades


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