Basquiat: I am not a black artist; I am an artist.

Before we start to talk about Basquiat’s art, we would like to give you some personal information about him to explain why we choose him to bring up in front of you.

Jean-Michel Basquiat was born from a Haitian father and Puerto Rica of descent mother in Brooklyn, 1960. His mother had an accident when he was seven years old. After that accident, she gave him a book called “Gray’s Anatomy.” Later to that incident, doctors decided to hospitalize his mother. Since his mother was absent, his father raised him.

His father appreciated both music and art. They were the essentials in his household. All those factors affected and enriched his personality and gave him a sophisticated perspective, which will make him the first internationally known Afro-American artist.

“I am not a black artist; I am an artist.”-Jean Michel Basquiat

By the age of eleven, he was able to speak English, French, and Spanish. That may be a clue for you on why we call him a brilliant boy of art.

Although he grew up with art, he tried to run away from home. However, after a week of sleeping at Square Park, Washington, coups found and arrested him. Also, they sent him back home.

At the age of 18, he succeeded in running away from home permanently. Some say that his father kicked him out of the house. Whether he left or got kicked out of home, he left school and home and lived on the streets.

“I don’t think about art when I’m working. I try to think about life.”-Jean Michel Basquiat

By making graffiti to the walls of Manhattan, he started to gain some money. Then with his friend Al Diaz, he began to sell t-shirts at public places. He was using a nickname called SAMO during those times. Thereby, his path to becoming one of the most known street artists in New York has begun.

Trumpet by Basquiat from

Before his death at the age of 28, he managed his way to the New York Times cover page. He first made his name known as an artist by joining the Times Square Show in 1980. After that, he exhibited his painting called “The Radiant Child” at Artforum. He worked with Andy Warhol and David Bowie and dated Madonna for a while before she was a well-known celebrity.

Jean Michel and Andy at 860 Broadway, October 26, 1983.© THE ANDY WARHOL FOUNDATION FOR THE VISUAL ARTS, INC. from

“I wanted to be a star, not a gallery mascot.”-Jean Michel Basquiat

He was one of the path-breaking minds of contemporary art, and he left us lots of questions about the value of an artwork and why we define an artwork as precious. However, some of his collaborations conflicted with his artistic identity. For instance, he was working with a capitalistic company like Armani, creating designs for luxurious lifestyles.



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