Basquiat, Jean-Michel



Artist – Born in New York in 1960, the son of a Haitian father and a Puerto Rican mother, Basquiat dropped out of high school and left home at the age of seventeen. Having gained some notoriety as a graffiti artist using the tag SAMO, in 1981 Basquiat’s paintings were exhibited at a show alongside artists such as Keith Haring and Andy Warhol. Overnight he became one of the most successful, controversial and glamorous artists in the world. His paintings, city dream-scapes and primal sketches, were bought by the most powerful museums and celebrity collectors including Madonna.

In 1988, at the age of 27, he died of a drugs overdose. The New York Times described him as “the art world’s closest equivalent to James Dean”. BBC culture critic, Tony Parsons, called him “perhaps the greatest black artist of the twentieth century”. A biopic, Basquiat, was released in 1996.

New York Times review of Basquiat biography

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