6 x 8"
oil on panel
Jean-Michel Basquiat is probably the most recognized Neo-Expressionism artist of the 20th Century, born in Brooklyn, NY in 1960, his father was Haitian-American, his mother was Puerto Rican. I would describe him as brilliant (he could read and write at the age of 4, fluent in French, English and Spanish at age 11) self-sufficient (at 15, he ran away from home, living in a park in New York City for a week, later supporting himself by selling paintings on postcards and T-shirts) creative (became a well-known graffiti artist under the pseudonym SAMO) musical (formed a rock band Gray and played all over New York) all before he found fame in the elite art world at the age of 20.
Basquiat then rolled with the famous - David Bowie, Madonna, Julian Schnabel and collaborated with Andy Warhol - was on the cover of magazines - his paintings were selling for as much as $50,000 - all the while loosing his grip with a heroin addiction. After his good friend, Warhol died in 1987, he sank into a more isolated existence and died of a herion overdose at the age of 27.
It's tragic, I know. The man had a lot to say and express about race, love, beauty, culture, pain, success, snobbery (I could go on).
One of my top-10 favorite movies is Basquiat - Jean-Michel played brilliantly by Jeffrey Wright, directed by Julian Schnabel who knew Jean-Michel well, David Bowie as Warhol - man, it is a great movie. Watch it.
A big thank-you to my good friend for the reference photo - two young, African-American men soaking in Basquiat's Untitled (Cadmium), in the High Museum of Art in Atlanta.