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JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT
(1960–1988)

One of the first African-American artists to reach international stature and wealth in the art world, had a short but prolific career, rising to fame early for his fusion of multicultural symbols, biting social commentary, distinctive graphic style, and often temperamental personality. Born in Brooklyn, NY, Basquiat drew and visited museums regularly from an early age, and many of his childhood interests (ranging from cartoons and Alfred Hitchcock films to anatomy and French and Spanish books) would prove influential in his later work. Basquiat dropped out of school at the age of 17, and began creating art, gaining notariety for his invented character SAMO (“Same Old Shit”), who made a living peddling “fake” religion.

Ever conscious of his identity as an African-American in the art world, Basquiat’s work was rife with imagery commenting on race relations in America, and drawing from the culture of the African Diaspora. His prevalent drug use became a greater concern to his friends and colleagues in the mid-1980s, and the artist’s fiery temper and capriciousness increased, particularly when working with dealers or developing his oeuvre. Warhol’s death in 1987 deeply affected Basquiat, and he painted several final works in a frenzy, full of apocalyptic imagery but with a confident, mature style. He died of a drug overdose in 1988, ending a brief but brilliant and unique career.

Brooklyn, New York

aa"Untitled (Primitive Figure)" - (circa 1983)- Signed on the back
aaOilstick on paper
(9"x8")
aaBack