Jean-Michel Basquiat , an African-American artist, was born in New York on 22 December 1960 in the family of quite a successful economist. His mother was a native of Puerto Rico, the father had Haitian roots. French, Spanish, English, art, poetry, and history surrounded the child from an early age, forming his artistic vision. Prosperity ended suddenly and family problems prompted the teenager to the street freedom, which had everything in excess, including drug addiction which would eventually end his life.
In 1976, on Manhattan walls there appeared graffiti signed with the abbreviation SAMO (SAMO shit), consisting of succinct semantic phrases. The authors were Jean-Michel Basquiat and Al Diaz. The street art was spotted in one of the magazines. Then 17-year-old Jean-Michel appeared in the TV show, then he gathered a band performing pan-rock in night clubs around the city. The SAMO project ended together with the friendship, but Basquiat could not be stopped. Any surface where it was possible to draw was used by the artist to express his creativity. Basquiat painted and painted.
SAMO is dead. 1982
Basquiat`s painting "Dustheads" (see the title illustration) was sold at Christie's for USD 48.8 million on May 16, 2013
In June 1980, the artist participated in the collective exhibition The Times Square Show. The article entitled "The Radiant Child" (30 years later Tamra Davis will make a documentary under the same title) by an authoritative art critic Rene Ricard followed, which made Jean-Michele a welcome guest in all the Bohemian hangouts. From that moment on his works will be of huge demand. It was the beginning of the story of recognition and at the same time the beginning of its tragic conclusion.
"New Art, New Money: The Marketing of an American Artist" was the title of the 1985 cover of The New York Times magazine featuring Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Almost a chance meeting with Andy Warhol grew into a fruitful creative and personal union becoming equally important for Warhol, who was an idol, and Basquiat, who was an idol-to-be.
Since 1982, Basquiat exhibited with Julian Schnabel (who would later shoot the film"Basquiat "), David Salle, Francesco Clemente and Enzo Cucchi. From this point on in the artistic environment there appeared a new term of "neo-expressionism" to determine artistic framework for a distinctive style.
Anthony Clarke. 1985
In 1983, Basquiat became a world famous artist: the most eminent exhibitions and galleries of Zurich, Tokyo, Rotterdam, Romeand Kassel host his artworks. The artist was a little more than twenty years old at that time.
"I don't think about art when I'm working. I try to think about life."
Riding with Death. 1988
It seemed that his short life contained in itself all that would be more than enough for ten people: talent, fame, money. "Is this the best you got?" Jean-Michel asked on another occasion, but , rather, asking this question regarding everything that surrounds him, being disappointed in wealth and fame. Even his talent couldn't at the moment open contemporary art museum doors to his pictures. What was the best for him would die along with Andy Warhol, in a year there will be no Basquiat. There will remain only his paintings, year by year acquiring greater undeniable significance.