Jean-Michel Basquiat (December 22, 1960 – August 12, 1988) was an American artist who rose to popularity during the 1980s as part of the Neo-expressionism movement.
Basquiat was born in Park Slope, Brooklyn, New York City, on December 22, 1960, the second child of Matilde Basquiat (née Andrades, 1934–2008) and Gérard Basquiat (1930–2013).
[He was preceded in death by an elder brother, Max, and two younger sisters, Lisane (b. 1964) and Jeanine (b. 1967). His father was born in Haiti’s Port-au-Prince and his mother in Brooklyn to Puerto Rican parents. He was raised as a devout Catholic.
Matilde developed an appreciation for art in her young son by visiting him to local museums and enrolling him in the Brooklyn Museum of Art’s junior membership programme.
|Genre||American reality show Personality|
|Death||August 12, 1988, due to heroin overdose|
|Net Worth||$ 10 Million|
Basquiat was an exceptionally bright child who began reading and writing at the age of four. His mother fostered his artistic abilities, and he frequently attempted to draw his favourite cartoons. In 1967, he enrolled at Saint Ann’s School, a private art school.
There, he met Marc Prezzo, and the two collaborated on a children’s book, which Basquiat wrote at the age of seven and Prozzo illustrated.
Basquiat originally found popularity as part of the graffiti duo SAMO, alongside Al Diaz, penning enigmatic epigrams in the cultural hub of Manhattan’s Lower East Side during the late 1970s, where rap, punk, and street art merged into early hip-hop music culture.
By the early 1980s, his paintings were being displayed in galleries and museums abroad. At 21, Basquiat became the youngest artist to ever take part in Documenta in Kassel. At 22, he was one of the youngest to show at the Whitney Biennial in New York. The Whitney Museum of American Art staged a retrospective of his artwork in 1992.
Basquiat’s paintings centred on dichotomies such as wealth against poverty, integration versus segregation, and inner versus outside experience. He took poetry, drawing, and painting, and married text and image, abstraction, figuration, and historical information blended with modern critique.
He employed social commentary in his paintings as a tool for introspection and for identifying with his experiences in the Black community of his period, as well as attacks on power structures and systems of racism.
His visual poetics were profoundly political and straightforward in their critique of colonialism and support for class struggle. Since Basquiat’s death at the age of 27 from a heroin overdose in 1988, his work has progressively climbed in value.
At a Sotheby’s auction in May 2017, Untitled, a 1982 painting by Basquiat depicting a black skull with red and yellow rivulets, sold for $110.5 million, becoming one of the most expensive artworks ever acquired. It also set a new record high for an American artist at auction.
Since drugs were available to her during their relationship, Goode began sniffing heroin with Basquiat. “He did not force anything on me; it was simply there, and I was so naive,” she explained. In late 1986, she was successful in enrolling herself and Basquiat in a Manhattan methadone programme, but he left after three weeks.
According to Goode, he began shooting heroin only after their relationship ended. Basquiat became something of a recluse in the final 18 months of his life. His continued drug usage is believed to have been a mechanism for him to cope following the February 1987 death of his friend Andy Warhol.
In June 1988, Basquiat visited Maui. When Keith Haring returned, he reported meeting Basquiat, who was overjoyed to inform him that he had successfully overcome his heroin addiction. Additionally, Glenn O’Brien recalls Basquiat calling and informing him that he was “feeling pretty fantastic.”
Despite his attempts at recovery, Basquiat died of a heroin overdose on August 12, 1988, at his residence on Great Jones Street in Manhattan. His fiancée Kelle Inman discovered him comatose in his bedroom and rushed him to Cabrini Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead upon arrival.
Basquiat is interred in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn. On August 17, 1988, a private funeral was performed at Frank E. Campbell Funeral Chapel. On November 3, 1988, public memorial service was held at Saint Peter’s Church.
Keith Haring made the artwork A Pile of Crowns for Jean-Michel Basquiat in commemoration of the late artist. Haring noted in the obituary he wrote for Vogue: “In ten years, he truly generated a lifetime’s worth of work. We speculate greedily on what else he may have made, on what masterpieces we have been cheated out of by his death, but the reality is that he has produced enough work to captivate future generations. Only now will the significance of his contribution become clear.”
Why Is Jean-Michel Basquiat Famous?
Michel Basquiat rose to prominence as a result of his arresting art and dynamic personality. He was bold, inventive, and determined, swiftly establishing himself as a cultural figure for the 1980s New York City art scene and beyond.
Not only is Basquiat still regarded as stylish as he was in the 1980s, but his themes are just as relevant now, if not more so. His personal lineage, as well as his upbringing in Brooklyn, informed his art and the biting political commentary it dispensed.
Basquiat’s paintings constantly raise critical questions about art history, consumerism, classism, and racism through their visuals and accompanying text. He addressed important and historical concerns, such as marginalisation, via the lens of slavery and colonialism, and only a handful of his works are overt in their subject matter.
Rather than that, he mostly used a variety of themes and motifs to portray his scepticism. One such motif is the repeating crown, which serves as a critique of class and race while also serving as a reminder of Basquiat’s own wealth and celebrity.
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