Jean-Michel Basquiat

Graffiti artist Jean-Michel Basquiat is regarded as one of the world’s most successful street artists, and one of the most successful African-American artists. His career, spanning just one short decade, was as brilliant as it was unique. He is known for inventing his child-like iconography and idiosyncratic graphic mark to address issues such as race, culture and heritage.

Born to a Haitian father, Gerard Basquiat, and a Puerto Rican mother, Matilde Andrades, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s heritage and childhood was to have a pivotal effect on his career. Filled with a sense of anger and loneliness, Basquiat began spray painting on the streets of New York. It was during this time that he created his character, come tag, “SAMO”. With SAMO’s signature, Basquiat began painting on found materials, buildings, t-shirts and commercial items. This style shifted in the 1980s when he delved into the urban 1980s avant-garde culture of New York City, becoming close friends and collaborator with the notorious pop artist Andy Warhol. Basquiat began creating wildly expressive paintings and limited edition prints that drew from culture of the African Diaspora to make comment on race relations in America.

In 1988, aged just 27, Basquiat died of a heroin overdose. Since his death, his work has continued to increase in value, with works such as Untitled 1981 achieving $34,885,000 at auction, and Untitled 1982 $57,285,000.

As well as his astounding artworks, and poetry that is still frequently quoted; Basquiat has been featured in to movies, including The Radiant Child and Basquiat. He is remembered for his one-man shows under the guidance of art dealers such as Nosei, Larry Gagosian, Mary Boone and Bruno Bischofberger, and his art collaborations with Andy Warhol.

Jean-Michel Basquiat