Jean Michel Basquiat 


Jean-Michel Basquiat was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1960. Basquiat's career began as a graffiti artist in lower Manhattan along with his friend Al Diaz. He became known for his signature "SAMO" on his political, graffiti work standing for "same old shit." In the late 1970s, Basquiat formed a band and appeared on television shows and in music videos, but it wasn't until 1980 that he was recognized as an artist. He started doing shows with other artists in the New York area and was featured in a magazine article in 1981 that started his rise to fame. Basquiat had become a part of the neo-expressionist movement in the early 80s when he met Andy Warhol. The two collaborated on several works from 1984-1986. His work style is broken into three periods of his life. The first part of his career included using words in his work as well as themes of racism and identity. He also had a fascination with skeletons and mortality, influenced especially by a book he was given as a child "Gray's Anatomy". The second part of his career (1982-1985) involved interest in his black identity, figures in the black community and events. It is believed that the third and final phase of his career was influenced strongly by drugs and his relationship with Andy Warhol. His work was starker with unrelated materials all in one piece. Unfortunately, Basquiat's excessive drug use is what caused his death in 1988.