“I start a picture and I finish it. I don’t think about art while I work. I try to think about life.”
Jean–Michel Basquiat, born Dec. 22, 1960 in Brooklyn, NY, is an important artist of the New York Graffiti art movement of the 1980s. At the age of 17, Basquiat began scrawling graffiti on walls around New York City. He signed his work with the anagram ‘SAMO.’
Selling hand–painted postcards and t–shirts to earn a living after dropping out of high school and leaving home, Basquiat began painting original works on canvas and paper. These works turned him into overnight sensation and, at the age of 21, he was the youngest artist invited to participate in the renowned ‘Documenta’ exhibit of modern works in Kassel, Germany. He went on to exhibit in Europe, Japan and the United States, all the while becoming more popular with collectors and critics. Pop artist Andy Warhol became a close friend and supporter and the two collaborated on almost 100 works of art.
Inspired by Picasso, pop culture, jazz music and African art and culture, Basquiat’s work contained recurrent combinations of words, symbols and figurative motifs. They are said to reflect an image of New York in the 1980s.