Volume 1 - Issue 1
â€œI don't think about art when I'm working. I try to think about life.â€?
22/12/1960 - 12/8/1988
Jean-Michel began as an obscure graffiti artist in New York City in the late 1970s and evolved into an acclaimed Neo-expressionist and Primitivist painter by the 1980s. Throughout his career Basquiat focused on "suggestive dichotomies," such as wealth versus poverty, integration versus segregation, and inner versus outer experience. Basquiat's art utilized a synergy of appropriation, poetry, drawing and painting, which married text and image, abstraction and figuration, and historical information mixed with contemporary critique. Utilizing social commentary as a "springboard to deeper truths about the individual", Basquiat's paintings also attacked power structures and systems of racism, while his poetics were acutely political and direct in their criticism of colonialism and support for class struggle.
In 1976, Basquiat and friend Al Diaz began spray-painting graffiti on buildings in Lower Manhattan, working under the pseudonym SAMO. The designs featured inscribed messages such as "Plush safe he think.. SAMO" and "SAMO as an escape clause." On December 11, 1978, the Village Voice published an article about the graffiti. When Basquiat & Diaz ended their friendship, The SAMO project ended with the epitaph "SAMO IS DEAD," inscribed on the walls of SoHo buildings in 1979.
In 1979 although not being able to actually play an instrument, Jean-Michel, along with close friends started a band. Performing under the name “Test Pattern” which would later be re-named “Gray” they played a seemingly disfunctional / experimental style of music that became quite popular in the 1980’s known as “noise rock”. This style of music was developed off the back of the punk/rock genre which focussed on more obscure sounds and prides itself on stearing away from the traditional structure of song writting.
T A I U L Q O BAS WARH In 1980 Basquiat met Andy Warhol in a restaurant. Basquiat approached Warhol and presented him with some samples of his work. Warhol was stunned by Basquait's genius and allure. The two men went onto become good friends and in turn sharing the same love for art, they descided to collaborate on numerous peices. Thier two completely different styles have made for some of the most amazing and memorable artworks created to date.
"Basquiat had an innate capacity to function as something like an oracle, distilling his perceptions of the outside world down to their essence and, in turn, projecting them outward through his creative acts." Fred Hoffman.
Darker Days... Along with Basquiatâ€™s amazing brilliance there was a parallelled darkness that would torment him throughout his years and would sadly be the reason for his life coming to an early end. Struggling with a drug addiction, despite an attempt at sobriety during a trip to Maui, Hawaii. On August 12th 1988 overdosed with heroin. He was only 27.