Jean-Michel Basquiat

About Artist: About The Artist A renowned painter, draftsman, poet, musician, and graffiti artist, as well as an all-around arts icon, Jean-Michel Basquiat was at the forefront of New York’s downtown avant-garde in the late 1970s and 80s. Friend to many but known well by a very few, Basquiat’s influence on subsequent generations of artists has been immense. Basquiat was born to Afro-Caribbean immigrants in 1960, and though he grew up in New York, Basquiat spent two years living in Puerto Rico, his mother’s country of origin. At the age of 16, he dropped out of high school, moved out of his parents’ house, and befriended several artists in New York’s downtown scene. Basquiat formed the band Gray, spread graffiti under the group alias SAMO©, made TV appearances on a local cable access show popular among that crowd, and began painting and drawing with more focused effort. After he met Andy Warhol, the two became fast friends and collaborated on several projects, and in 1980, he joined Annina Nosei Gallery, which represented several laudable graffiti artists of his generation, before later moving to Mary Boone Gallery in 1984. Throughout the 80s, Basquiat made a name for himself as one of the best among a cadre of Neo-Expressionist artists in New York. He was both lauded as a genius and seen as a standard bearer of the booming art market. Sadly, Basquiat died of an overdose of drugs in 1988. Julian Schnabel, one of Basquiat’s friends and contemporaries, made an eponymous 1996 biographical film about the artist.

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