Published on January 20th, 2015 |
by sunny Jean Michel Basquiat – “I am not a black artist, I am an artist.”
Throughout my childhood there were 3 artists who I noticed. Andy Warhol, Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Jean Michel was a Neo-Expressionist painter in the 1980s best known for his primitive style and his collaboration with pop artist Andy Warhol. For me he was actually the first black painter I ever saw when I was very young. Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat was born in Brooklyn, New York, on December 22, 1960. With a Haitian-American father and a Puerto Rican mother, Basquiat’s diverse cultural heritage was one of his many sources of inspiration.
He first attracted attention for his graffiti under the name “SAMO” in New York City. He sold sweatshirts and postcards featuring his artwork on the streets before his painting career took off.
A self-taught artist, Basquiat began drawing at an early age on sheets of paper his father, an accountant, brought home from the office. As he delved deeper into his creative side, his mother strongly encouraged to pursue artistic talents. In 1977, Basquiat quit high school a year before he was slated to graduate. To make ends meet, he sold sweatshirts and postcards featuring his artwork on the streets of his native New York.
Three years of struggle gave way to fame in 1980, when his work was featured in a group show. His work and style received critical acclaim for the fusion of words, symbols, stick figures, and animals. Soon, his paintings came to be adored by an art loving public that had no problem paying as much as $50,000 for a Basquiat original.
His rise coincided with the emergence of a new art movement, Neo-Expressionism, ushering in a wave of new, young and experimental artists that included Julian Schnabel and Susan Rothenberg.
In the mid 1980s, Basquiat collaborated with famed pop artist Andy Warhol, which resulted in a show of their work that featured a series of corporate logos and cartoon characters.
On his own, Basquiat continued to exhibit around the country and the world. In 1986, he traveled to Africa for a show in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. That same year, the 25-year-old exhibited nearly 60 paintings at the Kestner-Gesellschaft Gallery in Hanover, Germany—becoming the youngest artist to ever showcase his work there.
Basquiat died of a drug overdose on August 12, 1988, in New York City. He was 27 years old. Although his art career was brief, Jean-Michel Basquiat has been credited with bringing the African-American and Latino experience in the elite art world. Have a look at the trailer of the documentary Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child. Directed by Tamra Davis, the documentary features never-before seen footage of the prolific artist painting, talking about his art, and existing in the two years prior to his death in 1988. Till this day Jean Michel inspires lots of painters and artists Basquiat also appeared in the
BLONDIE music video “RAPTURE” as a nightclub disc jockey.
Basquiat is referenced in
Jay Z and Frank Ocean’s song Oceans: “I hope my black skin don’t dirt this white tuxedo before the Basquiat show” in the 2013 album Magna Carta Holy Grail. Both Jay-Z and Kanye West made reference to Basquiat on their 2011 collaborative album Watch the Throne
Jean Michel Basquiat you pop up through my life in images, music and art, your spirit still inspires – Sunny Jansen