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Biography of Jean-Michel BASQUIAT

Jean-Michel BASQUIAT

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Born on 22/12/1960 (format : day/month/year)

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Jean-Michel Basquiat - video - born December 22, 1960 -Died August 12, 1988), was an American artist of Haïtian and Puerto Rican origin.Basquiat's diverse cultural heritage was one of his many sources of inspiration. Jean-Michel Basquiat's productive career spanned just one short decade, yet he is considered one of the best-known artists of his generation and one of only a small number of Hispanic-African-American artists to have achieved international recognition. Graduating from subway walls to canvas and from the streets of New York to the galleries of SoHo, the artist and his work will forever remain a mystery to those who seek explanation.

 Jean-Michel Basquiat was born on December 22, 1960 in Brooklyn, New York. His father, Gerard Basquiat was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and his mother, Matilde was born in Brooklyn of Puerto Rican parents. The rest of Jean-Michel’s family consisted of two younger sisters. Even at an early age, Jean-Michel drawings and paintings drew attention from his parents. He attended private school until fourth grade in which most of the other children were white. When he was seven, Jean-Michel was hit by a car and had to have his spleen removed. While in the hospital, he received a book titled Gray’s Anatomy that his mother gave him , which was said to have influenced the figures drawn in Basquiat's work. Basquiat's mother and father divorced, leaving the young boy to live with his father and sisters.

He showed an early interest in drawing, and he was encouraged by his mother's interest in fashion design and sketching and by his father's gifts of paper brought home from his office. From as early as 1965 Basquiat's mother took him to the Brooklyn Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and MOMA, and from 1966 he was a Junior Member of the Brooklyn Museum.

From 1976-78, Basquiat created ‘Samo’ (Same Old Shit), a fictional character who earned a living selling ‘fake’ religion. He also collaborated with his close friend and graffiti artist Al Diaz. Basquiat and Diaz ‘s graffiti took the form of spray-painted messages that were seen around Lower Manhattan. In 1978, SAMO gained some recognition when a positive article was printed in the Village Voice. The collaboration ended in 1979 and “Samo is dead” was seen on walls in SoHo.

In the late 1970s Basquiat met artists and musicians in various clubs and this led to his introduction to New York art collectors and dealers. During this period Basquiat created postcards, collages, drawings, and T-shirts that depicted events such as the Kennedy assassination and themes such as baseball players and Pez candy.

Basquiat’s first public exhibition was in the group “The Times Square Show” alsongside David Hammons, Jenny Holzer, Lee Quinones, Kiki Smith, and others. By 1982, he was showing regularly and became part of the Neo-expressionist movement. That same year, he began dating the then unknown Madonna and met Andy Warhol, with whom he collaborated and formed a close friendship. it was the beginning of an association based on friendship and work. Together they worked on a long series of original paintings that received great acclaim: Monster Meat (1984-1985), Eggs (1985), Zenith (1985). Basquiat’s first solo exhibition was also held in 1982 at the Annina Nosei Gallery in New York.

Basquiat’s art was influenced by imagery and symbolism from African, Aztec, Greek, and Roman cultures, as well as that of his own Puerto Rican and Haitian heritage and Black and Hispanic cultures. The crown was Basquiat’s signature motif. In some paintings, the crowns are placed on top of generic figures. More often, he crowned his personal heroes including jazz musicians, such as Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, and athletes, such as Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson, Muhammad Ali, and Hank Aaron.

In the mid-1980s Basquiat began using heroin, and much of his artwork appeared unfinished and repetitive. The death of Andy Warhol in 1987 had a profound affect on him. His grief turned into creativity and his painting displayed a new confidence and maturity. Many of his works during this period make references to death.

Following an attempt at rehabilitation, Basquiat died on August 12, 1988 of an accidental drug overdose. He was 27 years old. Several major retrospective exhibitions of Basquiat’s works have been held since his death, in the US and internationally.



An amazing Painter

Last update : 04/17/2011

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