Basquiat’s expressive style was based on raw figures and integrated words and phrases. His work is inspired by a pantheon of luminaries from jazz, boxing, and basketball, with references to arcane history and the politics of street life?so when asked about his subject matter, Basquiat answered “royalty, heroism and the streets.”
An icon of 1980s New York, Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960–1988) first made his name under the graffiti tag “SAMO,” before establishing his studio practice and catapulting to fast fame at the age of 20. Although his career lasted barely a decade, he remains a cult figure of artistic social commentary, and a trailblazer in the mediation of graffiti and gallery art.
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Jean-Michel Basquiat was only twenty-seven when he died in 1988, his meteoric and often controversial career having lasted for just eight years. Despite his early death, Basquiat’s powerful ouvre has ensured his continuing reputation as one of modern art’s most distinctive voices. Borrowing from graffiti and street imagery, cartoons, mythology and religious symbolism, Basquiat’s drawings…