Jean-Michel Basquiat


Jean-Michel Basquiat (French pronunciation: [ʒɑ̃ miʃɛl baskja]; December 22, 1960 – August 12, 1988) was an American artist who rose to success during the 1980s as part of the Neo-expressionism movement.

Basquiat first achieved notoriety in the late 1970s as part of the graffiti duo SAMO, alongside Al Diaz, writing enigmatic epigrams all over Manhattan, particularly in the cultural hotbed of the Lower East Side where rap, punk, and street art coalesced into early hip-hop culture. By the early 1980s, his paintings were being exhibited in galleries and museums internationally. At 21, Basquiat became the youngest artist to ever take part in Documenta in Kassel, Germany. At 22, he became one of the youngest to exhibit at the Whitney Biennial in New York. The Whitney Museum of American Art held a retrospective of his artwork in 1992.

Basquiat's art focused on 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, figuration, and historical information mixed with contemporary critique. He used social commentary in his paintings as a tool for introspection and for identifying with his experiences in the black community, as well as attacks on power structures and systems of racism.

Since his death at the age of 27 in 1988, Basquiat's work has steadily increased in value. In 2017, Untitled, a 1982 painting depicting a black skull with red and yellow rivulets, sold for a record-breaking $110.5 million, becoming one of the most expensive paintings ever purchased.

Wikidata identifier


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American painter and draftsman rapidly rose to fame in the 1980s with his graffiti and more conventional paintings on canvas and paper. While still unknown, he would spray paint cryptic phrases on buildings under the name 'Samo'. Basquiat's paintings and drawings were influenced by commercial art and popular imagery. He frequently used textual elements in his work that provided social commentary based on stereotypical black images and events. In 1983 he met Andy Warhol, with whom he collaborated. Basquiat died of a drug overdose in 1988. American artist.

Country of birth

United States


Artist, cartoonist, collagist, graffiti artist, illustrator, installation artist, muralist, musician, painter, sculptor

ULAN identifier



Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jean-Michael Basquiat, Jean Michel Basquiat, SAMO, Samo

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Information from the Getty Research Institute's Union List of Artist Names ® (ULAN), made available under the ODC Attribution License. Accessed July 11, 2024.