I actually didn't know anything about Jean Michel Basquiat until a few weeks ago. Being a human being of color Basquiat's story hits close to home. Here's a man who was homeless living on the streets of New York during the 1980s to eventually show in best galleries around the world. The art world is as white as the canvas we paint on. It's hard enough being an artist but being an artist of color is whole other challenge. I have run into these challenges many a time. Other than the fact that Jean Michel was an fantastic creator and painter, he did break down the barrier of color in the New York fine art world. I think the art world is still too white today but Basquiat is proof that we can add color to the picture. When I paint or live I don't identify myself as a colored man or painter. I'm only reminded that I am NOT white by people that like to use this as a demeaning quality.
A little bio: Jean-Michel Basquiat. Born December 22, 1960 – August 12, 1988 was an American artist. He first achieved notoriety as part of SAMO, an informal graffiti duo who wrote enigmatic epigrams in the cultural hotbed of the Lower East Side of Manhattan during the late 1970s where the hip hop, post-punk, and street art movements had coalesced. By the 1980s, he was exhibiting his neo-expressionist paintings in galleries and museums internationally. The Whitney Museum of American Art held a retrospective of his art in 1992.
Basquiat's art focused on "suggestive dichotomies", such as wealth versus poverty, integration versus segregation, and inner versus outer experience. He appropriated poetry, drawing, and painting, and married text and image, abstraction, and figuration, and historical information mixed with contemporary critique.
Basquiat used social commentary in his paintings as a "springboard to deeper truths about the individual", as well as attacks on power structures and systems of racism, while his poetics were acutely political and direct in their criticism of colonialism and support for class struggle. He died of a heroin overdose at his art studio at age 27.
Jean-Michel Basquiat Films:
The Radiant Child. A documentary about Basquiat's life and the 1980s New York art scene. Directed by Tamra Davis. Written by Eric Martin and Lois Vossen. 88 minutes. Released 2010. Watch here.
Basquiat. Freely adapted feature-film account of Basquiat's life. Miramax Films and Jon Kilik; a Peter Brant, Joseph Allen production; directed by Julian Schnabel. 106 minutes. Released 1996. Video edition distributed by Buena Vista Home Entertainment, 2002. IMDB Link and Trailer
Downtown 81 (New York Beat). Produced by Maripol, directed by Edo Bertoglio, written by Glenn O'Brien, cinematography by John McNulty. 75 minutes. Filmed 1980-81 under the working title "New York Beat," with Basquiat in the central role of the artist. Reconstruction released by Zeitgeist Films, 2000. IMDB Link
Van de Weghe Fine Art, New York
Lio Malca, New York
Galerie Enrico Navarra, Paris
Tony Shafrazi Gallery, New York
Fred Hoffman, Santa Monica
More info: basquiat.com