Jean-Michel Basquiat

1960 - 1988 · United States

Artist biography

Jean-Michel Basquiat was a visual artist and an emblematic figure among the pioneers of contemporary art. He was an avant-garde artist who associated graffiti with painting. Born on December 22, 1960 in Brooklyn, of a Puerto Rican mother and a Haitian father, Jean-Michel Basquiat was quickly immersed in the world of the Arts by his mother. He left high school, putting an end to his schooling Jean Michel Basquiat, began with tags under the pseudonym SAMO with his friend Al Diaz before quickly becoming famous in the 1980s.

Basquiat's style is punchy and original, his canvases are filled with childlike shapes and vibrant colours and release a unique expressiveness. Jean Michel Basquiat paints energetically and nervously in relation to his iconoclastic personality. His work is structured around his astonishing interest in death and violence which influence a rough graphics with sharp lines. Basquiat’s art plays with the conventions of painting by childish forms, abstract however capable of delivering an extremely serious message and a sharp visual experience, “believe it or not I can actually draw”. His body of work also convey the scientific spirit that animates him, he paints his characters by showing their anatomy, flesh and skeleton. His paintings are intended to be disturbing and poetic, with bright colors, which are contrasted by dark and gloomy backgrounds as in his work Dust Dead (1982). Jean Michel Basquiat uses his art as a claim to his African culture, he extracts the basics to communicate a whistleblowing and political character especially against the oppression suffered by the black community. It highlights historical and contemporary black figures like Cassius Clay (alias Mohamed Ali).

Basquiat died at the age of 27 on August 12th, 1988 in Brooklyn. In 2017, his artwork Untitled (1982) was purchased for $110.5 million and set a new record for the highest price ever paid at auction for an American artist's work. Today, Basquiat's works are presented in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Rubell Family Collection in Miami, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, among others.

Jean-Michel Basquiat

  • Artworks in Collections 5
  • Exhibitions 13

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