Jean-Michel Basquiat


“I don't listen to what art critics say. I don't know anybody who needs a critic to find out what art is.”

One of the most famous artists of all time, Jean-Michel Basquiat was a true art celebrity, a cultural icon, graffiti artist, poet, musician, and neo-expressionist painter. As an astonishingly gifted artist, he lived hard and died harder (from an unintentional heroin overdose in 1988). He was New York City’s brightest art star who had a rocket-flight life.

Born in New York City in 1960, Jean-Michel Basquiat first gained notoriety as a subversive graffiti artist and street poet in the late 1970s. In addition to graffiti, Basquiat painted postcards, his own clothes, doors, and window frames, and large canvases. Success rapidly followed, leading young Basquiat to become one of the most representative artists of the second half of the twentieth century. He was a prodigious young talent, fusing drawing and painting with history and poetry to produce an unprecedented artistic language. By adding words to his paintings, he was actually giving them complexity and raw innovative power. Basquiat once said “I cross out words so you will see them more; the fact that they are obscured makes you want to read them.” As a part of the New York art scene, he was a dear friend of Andy Warhol and Keith Haring.

Basquiat was also mixing urbanity and primitivism while providing commentary on the harsh realities of race, culture, and society, he made paintings with direct energy and vivid simple colors. His work is confrontational, demanding a response from its viewers - it is not easy to ignore. In 2017, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s painting of a skull was sold for $110.5 million at Sotheby’s in New York, setting an auction record for American artists.

Jean-Michel Basquiat’s powerful and ever-lasting legacy speaks for itself – today even more than ever. He remains a larger-than-life figure of immense importance in the art world. His presence in modern art didn’t just leave his mark on the city that never sleeps, but his work continues to be an integral part of today’s pop culture, appearing in museums and galleries, BEARBRICK figures, toys, clothing, and skateboards. Basquiat truly revolutionized and shaped the modern culture of the 21st century back in the '80s.

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Jean-Michel Basquiat's Works

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