Jean Basquiat needs no introduction, he's debatably one of the most famous artists in the last 50 years. Basquiat art is very recognizable, his style is different/out there .. he let his creativity go wild when he created his artwork. This is one of the many reasons he's been celebrated over the years in the contemporary art world. Till today, when a Basquiat piece is on sale at an auction or gallery, you hear about it; his work is considered blue-chip art.
Basquiat was born in 1980s celebrity and commerce-obsessed culture. His work continues to be a symbol for the dangers and excesses of artistic and social excess. Basquiat rose to fame and wealth, but then fell back to Earth as a victim to drug abuse and overdose. To discover other famous artists, visit our artist profiles section!
Basquiat Art Style
Jean-Michel Basquiat was a cultural icon, pop figure, graffiti artist and musician. He is also a neo-expressionist painter. Basquiat's paintings were part of the 1970s-80s Neo-Expressionist movement in art. His art style is filled with frenetic, but also very direct energy and simple colours. Although the resulting works seem unfocused and raw, they actually reflect their true nature. It is wrong to consider them as such. This ignores their context, their impact, and the concepts that give them depth.
In This Case, 1983 - Credits: Christies
Basquiat's use imagery and motifs that are reminiscent of African art made him easy to stereotype, but he wanted to be recognized as an artist. His work is confrontational and demands a response from viewers. It is difficult to ignore, but it helps us understand his inner struggles. Basquiat was in a love-hate relationship throughout his career with the art establishment. Basquiat's iconography is modern and contemporary, while drawing inspiration from many styles of art over the centuries.
Jean-Michel Basquiat – Untitled (Crown), 1982 - Credit: Mark Woods
Basquiat studied both African art and western art. This is evident in his abstract portrayal of Titian, an Italian Mannnerist painter. European art has been influenced by ideas from abroad for a long time, whether it be in Africa, South America, or Asia.
Who Is Jean Basquiat?
Jean-Michel Basquiat was a Brooklyn native, born in 1960. Matilde Andradas, his mother, was also born in Brooklyn to Puerto Rican parents. Gerard Basquiat was his father and an immigrant from Port-au-Prince (Haiti). Jean-Michel, a product of his mixed heritage, was fluent in English and Spanish. Later, his early readings in French of symbolist poetry would have an impact on the art he created as an adult.
Basquiat was an artist from an early age. His mother encouraged him to draw and paint and he often used supplies (such paper) that his father brought home from work as an accountant. Basquiat, his mother and Jean-Michel attended many New York museum exhibitions together. Jean-Michel was already a Junior Member at the Brooklyn Museum by six years of age.
Versus Medici, 1982 - Photo: Sothebys
Basquiat's art were a major factor in the rise of graffiti artists to the New York gallery scene. Basquiat's spray-painted crowns and scribbled letters referred to everything, from his Haitian heritage and Puerto Rican heritage to political issues and Biblical verse. He began his early work spray painting trains and buildings in New York City with his friend Al Diaz. The now-famous pseudonym SAMO was used as the artist's tag. Basquiat was named the most popular American artist of the 1980s by a feature article in the New York Times Magazine.
His expressive and gestural work was not only in line with the street art of Keith Haring, but also with his own style. After he rose quickly to fame in the 1980s, he was soon surrounded by celebrities and artists including Andy Warhol. Who Basquiat also collaborated with many other artist, Warhol assisted Basquiat throughout his career. Despite not taking part of the Pop Art movement with Warhol, Basquiat's work was still able to rise in fame at the same time.
Jean Basquiat Facts
- His record artwork sale was Untitlted, 1982 which sold for a whopping $110.5 Million USD
Jean Michel-Basquiat, Untitled (1982). Courtesy of Brooklyn Museum.
- Basquiat was one of Andy Warhol's closest friends
- Many fashion brands today collaborate with his estate in order to use his designs on their clothes
Basquiat Shirt - Credits: UNIQLO
- Basquiat tragic death came from a heroin overdose on August 12, 1988
- One of Basquiat's influences was Picasso