Jean-Michel Basquiat is a world-renowned contemporary artist from the United States. He is so well known that four movies have been made about him.

In his 10 years of activity, he left more than 1,000 works, and is sometimes ridiculed as "Black Picasso."

Untitled by Basquiat

In this article, we will take a closer look at Basquiat's life and works.

The Life of Basquiat

His art originate with his mother

He was born in Brooklyn, New York, USA in 1960. At that time, New York was a city full of disparities.

New York City had a glittering side as a financial district and a subway system that still retains a chaotic atmosphere. It also has many faces, including slums.

Basquiat's father was a Puerto Rican immigrant accountant, and his mother was a Haitian immigrant. His mother has exposed Basquiat to a lot of art from a young age, often taking him to art museums. He was even a junior member of the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

His art was greatly influenced by the books he read from an early age. At the age of seven, he understood English, French, and Spanish, and even read difficult books like history, poetry, and mythology.

He was such a voracious reader that when he broke a bone in his arm at the age of eight, he read a well-known anatomy book called Gray's Anatomy to pass the time in the hospital. The book would also greatly influence his later work.

It's still a famous book on anatomy even more than a century passed after its publication.

Later, her parents divorced. Basquiat spent time with his father along with his two younger sisters.

When he was 15 years old, he ran away from home. He spent his days sleeping on a park bench in Manhattan, New York, and hanging out with his friends. However, he was arrested by the police. He was placed on probation by his father.

After that, he attended high school but dropped out.

Developing his talent

Basquiat spent a difficult adolescence.

Around the age of 17, he began his art activities in earnest.

He spent his days earning a living by selling T-shirts and postcards while interacting with various groups. He formed a unit called "SAMO" (Same Old Shift) with his friends and began to expand his art activities more and more.

At that time, graffiti art in New York was saturated with simple tagging of numbers and names.

In such a situation, their works and words, which poetically depicted consumerism and politics, must have looked very different to New Yorkers at that time.

They quickly became famous as they created more and more art on the streets. They went from being nearly homeless to selling a single painting for up to $25,000.

Basquiat found in New York

The age of 20 was a turning point for him.

After a hiatus from his activities at SAMO, he participated in a group exhibition under the name Basquiat for the first time. Among the many famous artists participating, his work was no less impressive and caught the attention of various art critics and academics.

This was the beginning of Basquiat's decision to live his life as an artist, and he has been expanding his activities not only under the name SAMO, but also under the name Basquiat.

SAMO ended its activities in 1979.

His artistic achievement is considered to be the creation of the "suggestive dichotomies". His work has been exhibited in numerous solo shows with great success.

"Suggestive dichotomies" means...

Focusing a work on two things. Basquiat's work often focuses on two relative things, such as 'rich' and 'poor' or 'outside' and 'inside.'

1980 was also an important year for his personal connections.

He met and became friends with Andy Warhol of Pop Art fame. Andy Warhol, who was successful in his own business and art, was the king of wealth and fame. He must have been the man of Basquiat's dreams at the time.

After the age of 20, Basquiat became active in many countries around the world. His works dominated the world art scene to the extent that famous galleries and museums exclusively featured his works at that time.

However, he also turned to drugs, perhaps out of anguish as an artist.

He confided in Andy Warhol, his close friend, that he was tormented by the fear that no one would pay attention to his work and that someone would steal it.

Basquiat and Warhol had developed a close friendship. The two even collaborated with each other to create works.

However, Warhol died at the age of 58.

The following year, Basquiat also passed away due to a heroin overdose, perhaps following in the footsteps of Warhol.


Continue to read further story of Basquiat on Part 2.

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