ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Jean-Michel Basquiat
“I am not a Black artist, I am an artist.”
Basquiat was born in Brooklyn, New York, on December 22, 1960. With a Haitian-American father and a Puerto Rican mother, Basquiat's diverse cultural heritage was one of his many sources of inspiration.
Basquiat began drawing at an early age using sheets of paper his father brought home from work. As he became more in touch with his creative side, his mother strongly encouraged him to pursue his artistic talents.
In the late 70s, Basquiat attracted attention for his graffiti using the same "SAMO". He tagged subway train cards and Manhattan buildings with cryptic messages.
In 1977 Basquiat quit high school a year before he was due to graduate. In order to make money, he sold sweatshirts and postcards printed with his artwork on the streets of New York.
In his earlier works, Basquiat was known for using a crown motif, which was his way of celebrating Black people as royalty.
Describing the crown itself in further detail, artist Francesco Clemente said: "Jean-Michel’s crown has three peaks, for his three royal lineages: the poet, the musician, the great boxing champion. Jean measured his skill against all he deemed strong, without prejudice as to their taste or age."
Basquiat struggled as an artist for several years before 1980 when his work was featured in a group show. His work and style received critical acclaim for the fusion of words, symbols, stick figures, and animals. Quickly his paintings came to be adored by art lovers that were willing to pay as much as $50,000 for a Basquiat original.
Basquiat's rise in fame coincided with the emergence of a new art movement called Neo-Expressionism, which ushered in a wave of new, young, and experimental artists, including Julian Schnabel and Susan Rothenberg.
Now Open in NYC...
Jean-Michel Basquiat: KING PLEASURE
Learn more about the exhibit and buy tickets here: kingpleasure.basquiat.com
Even if you can't make it to the exhibit in NYC, you can always browse our online collection of Basquiat-themed notecards, journals, and more!
Check out some of our favorites below!
Jean-Michel Basquiat QuickNotes
Jean-Michel Basquiat Mini Clipboard, Dino (Pez Dispenser)
In Italian by Jean-Michel Basquiat Mini Sticky Book