Selected Works


Jean-Michel Basquiat was born in December 22, 1960, in Brooklyn, New York.

Basquiat was an American painter known for his raw gestural style of painting with graffiti like images and scrawled text. Basquiat was raised in a middle-class home in Brooklyn. His mother was an American of Puerto Rican descent. She encouraged Basquiat’s interest in art, taking him to New York City’s great art museums. After his parents separated, he and his sisters lived with their father in Puerto Rico from 1974 to 1976. His mother was diagnosed as mentally ill and eventually was institutionalized.

Troubled by his early childhood, Basquiat dropped out of high school and left home at age 17. He lived on the streets, with friends, or in abandoned buildings and began a graffiti campaign with graffiti artists Al Diaz and Shannon Dawson who created under the persona name SAMO© (“Same old shit”).

Basquiat emerged in the aboveground New York art scene in the late 1970s when graffitists began to receive notice in the art world. He participated in his first formal public exhibition in “The Times Square Show” in 1980. From there his career skyrocketed, and, until his death in 1988, he was a celebrity, represented by major blue-chip galleries in New York and Germany.

His personal style which lacked any formal training mixed graffiti and signs with the gestural and intuitive approach of Abstract Expressionist painting. His works reflects his personal issues as well as mixed motifs from African, Caribbean, Aztec, and Hispanic cultures. He also known for mixing “high art” references with images from popular culture, especially cartoons.

In 1981 Basquiat was the subject of an article by art critic René Ricard in Artforum magazine. The young artist was be friended by the Pop artist Andy Warhol in 1983, and the two began to collaborate occasionally. In 1985 Basquiat appeared on the cover of the weekly New York Times Magazine as a representative of the contemporary art-marketing trend.

Three years later, at age 27, Basquiat found dead in his loft from an overdose of heroin in August 12, 1988, New York City.

The director Julian Schnabel made Basquiat and his meteoric rise in the art world the subject of his first film, Basquiat (1996).