Jean-Michel Basquiat

“I cross out words so you will see them more; the fact that they are obscured makes you want to read them.”  

Jean-Michael Basquiat

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Jean-Michel Basquiat

Jean-Michel Basquiat was born on December 22, 1960, in Brooklyn, New York. He was the son of a Haitian-American father and a Puerto Rican mother. Since a very young age Basquiat shows an interest for art and his mother encouraged his artistic talent by taking him to art museums around New York city.

In 1968 his parents get divorced, and in 1976 he attended "City as A School", an alternative high school for talented students who failed at conventional schooling. The same years, when he was 17 years old, Basquiat starts to use drugs and begins to fill the streets of Manhattan with graffiti under the name "SAMO" a tag for Same Old ShitHis graffitis are revolutionary or senseless phrases like SAMO© SAVES IDIOTS, and often in his drawings he added words or phrases that oftentimes were crossed out.

In 1978, Basquiat dropped out of school and left his father's home in Brooklyn, during this time he supported himself by selling T-shirts and homemade postcards and for a long period he was homeless, forced to sleep in a New York's park. The same year he meets Andy Warhol in a restaurant in Soho, Warhol bought him a postcard for a dollar, but the famous artist, did not show up particularly interested in his art. It would be only just a few years later, that Basquiat will become part of “The Factory” the artistic studio of Warhol. Meanwhile he was also succeeding in the cultural scene of the East Village, thanks to his frequents TV appearances on Glenn O'Brien TV Party show; Basquiat's career began to take off, as a musician because he was also part of a musical band, but especially as an artist.

Meeting Warhol influenced deeply Basquiat’s artistic production; in fact, both had a blooming collaboration and set up together an exhibition whose poster portrays them as protagonists of a boxing match. The young artist begins to have art exhibits, in New York and around the world. On February 10th, 1985 the New York Times Magazine dedicated him a cover, with the title: "New Art, New Money: The Making of an American Artist", naming him as a rising star of the american peinture.

Despite his success, Basquiat has a melancholic soul, unable to balance his fame and his own demons; when his paintings reached millionaire quotations, in the hands of a market that is more interested in the works rather than the person, the artist falls in crisis. Since he was very young, he used drugs, but it is after Warhol’s death in 1987 that he became increasingly depressed and paranoid; On August 12th in 1988, at the age of 27, he was found dead in his New York loft due to a mix of cocaine and heroin.

Basquiat's works are considered an excellent investment, in fact on May 14th, 2002 Christie's auctioned for 5,509,500 dollars the painting "Profit I", a work previously owned by Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich. It was the highest reached price for one of his works until May 15th, 2007 when the New York auction house Sotheby's sold an untitled work by Basquiat for 14.6 million dollars, reaching a new record for the artist.