Jean-Michel Basquiat was an American artist born on December 22, 1960. His talent set him apart. He was first known as part of the graffiti duo SAMO and was to achieve a great deal as a solo artist. Basquiat’s success came during the Neo-expressionist movement. Among the various themes his art explored were wealth and poverty, segregation and integration, as well as the outer and inner experience of life. He combined abstract and figurative painting with poetry, social commentary, and historical information to create a contemporary critique admired by many. He was an outstanding figure, whose special day we remember right here.
Jean-Michel Basquiat was born in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and his parents were of Puerto Rican and African-American descent. Raised a Catholic, Basquiat was taken to art museums as a child and was soon enrolled in the Brooklyn Museum of Art. While attending St. Ann’s School, Basquiat met Marc Prozzo. The duo created a children’s book written by Basquiat and illustrated by Prozzo. Basquiat’s parents separated in 1968, and his father took him to Puerto Rico in 1974, returning to Brooklyn two years later.
Back in New York, Basquiat met Al Diaz at City-As-School, and the pair formed SAMO as a joke. However, the duo soon attracted attention for their graffiti and were featured by “The Village Voice” in 1978. In 1980, Basquiat participated in the multi-artist exhibition held at the “The Times Square Show,” and shortly thereafter sold his first painting, ‘Cadillac Moon,’ to Debbie Harry for $200. At age 27, he took part in the German art festival, “Documenta in Kassel,” as its youngest artist. He followed with a one-man show in Zurich and opened a solo exhibition in the East Village. In 1983, Basquiat was invited to the ‘Whitney Biennial Exhibition of Contemporary Art.’ By the time he appeared in the “New York Times Magazine” in 1985, Basquiat was earning $1.4 million annually. With fame came emotional instability and excessive drug use, but still, in 1986, he exhibited over 60 works of art at the Kestner-Gesellschaft institution in Hannover, which made him the youngest artist to achieve this feat.
When Basquiat died from a heroin overdose in 1988, his work began to increase in value. In 2017, a work from 1982 he had named “Untitled,” sold for $110.5 million, and became one of the most expensive paintings ever purchased. Basquiat was laid to rest at Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery.
Basquiat and Al Diaz form SAMO and begin spraying graffiti on Lower Manhattan buildings.
Basquiat sells his first painting, Cadillac Moon, to Debbie Harry for $200.
Basquiat appears in the February issue of “The New York Times Magazine.”
Basquiat becomes the youngest artist to exhibit his work at the Kestner-Gesellschaft in Hannover.
Why We Love Jean-Michel Basquiat
He was talented
Basquiat’s talent was both a blessing and a curse. He was an excellent artist.
His art was amazing
Basquiat’s art was riveting, and it moved people to feel. He combined elements of poetry, drawing, painting, abstraction, figuration, and history, blending them with contemporary critique. He was a genius.
His struggles were relatable
Basquiat’s struggles with drug use motivated people to turn their lives around. His struggle with his identity as a successful African-American artist in a white-dominated space inspired more people of color to venture into the arts.
5 Surprising Facts
He dated Madonna
In her pre-fame years, Madonna dated Basquiat.
He got hit by a car
Basquiat was hit by a car at age seven and suffered several injuries, including a broken arm.
He was expelled
Basquiat was forced to leave City-As-School for ignoring the principal.
He was a polyglot
Basquiat could speak French, Spanish, and English fluently.
His mother received psychiatric care
Basquiat’s mother was committed to a psychiatric unit soon after her separation from his father.
Jean-Michel Basquiat FAQs
Was Jean-Michel Basquiat schizophrenic?
Although Basquiat struggled with his mental health, he was never diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Was Jean-Michel Basquiat bisexual?
Basquiat never identified as bisexual, although he did have several sexual experiences with men.
Who bought Basquiat’s $110 million painting?
Yusaku Maezawa bought Basquiat’s painting, “Untitled,” for $110.5 million.
Jean-Michel Basquiat’s birthday dates