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The Very Short Story Of Jean-Michel Basquiat

Updated: Feb 24

Jean-Michel Basquiat (December 22, 1960 – August 12, 1988) was an American artist.

Thanks to Basquiat's mother he became a junior member of the Brooklyn Museum of Art. Basquiat first achieved fame as part of the graffiti duo SAMO.

Back in the late seventies, you couldn't go anywhere in Lower Manhattan without noticing that someone named SAMO had been there first. Basquiat developed the character SAMO as an abbreviation for the phrase "Same old shit" alongside Al Diaz. SAMO is a graffiti tag originally used on the streets of New York City from 1978 to 1980. The tag was written with a copyright symbol as "SAMO©".

The SAMO Tag...

The SAMO tag accompanied short phrases, which were poetic and satirical advertising slogans, mainly spray painted on the streets of downtown Manhattan. Basquiat eventually used the tag himself, creating some non-graffiti work on paper and canvas using that tag.

Basquiat rose to success during the 1980s as part of the Neo-expressionism movement. Neo-Expressionist works are characterized by their intense expressive subjectivity, highly textural applications of paint, vividly contrasting colors, and return to large-scale narrative imagery.

By the early 1980s, Basquiat's 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 was one of the youngest to exhibit at the Whitney Biennial in New York. Since Basquiat's death at the age of 27 from a heroin overdose in 1988, his 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. Basquiat became the most famous of only a small number of young black artists who have achieved worldwide recognition.

Jean-Michel Basquiat 1982,
Jean-Michel Basquiat 1982

Jean-Michel Basquiat created a distinct style.

The Case of Jean-Michel Basquiat is a case of a smart young street artist who was able somehow to make it to the high-end art market, with limited technical skills, Jean-Michel Basquiat created a distinct style.

Basquiat's work never rose above "that lowly artistic station" of graffiti "even when his paintings were fetching enormous prices. A close look at Basquiat's artworks we notice remarkably strong compositions, a bold limited palette, Basquiat used colors as they come out of a tube, and flat primitive subject expressions with little or no depth of field.

The viewer will also notice the absence of any trials to work with light, on the other hand, the extensive usage of texts in his paintings was some kind of heterogeneity. However, the Young Jean-Michel Basquiat was able to develop his artistic Neo-Expressionism into a 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. Basquiat's art focused on dichotomies such as wealth versus poverty, integration versus segregation, and inner versus outer experience.

Basquiat appropriated poetry, drawing, and painting, and married text and image, abstraction, figuration, and historical information mixed with contemporary critique.

Basquiat's diverse cultural heritage was one of his many sources of inspiration. Basquiat often incorporated Spanish words into his artworks and has various works deriving from African American history illustrating how African Americans have been controlled by a predominantly Caucasian society.

Basquiat "Quality."

Basquiat hadn't worked with what the word "quality" meant. Basquiat was "street-smart" but his limited artistic skills argued that art dealers of the time were imagining art as Basquiat himself.

Graffiti art acquired a cult status in certain New York art circles. As a result of the campaign waged by these art-world entrepreneurs on Basquiat's behalf and their own, of course, there was never any doubt that the museums, the collectors, and the media would fall into line when talking about the marketing of Basquiat's name.

Untitled 1982
Untitled 1982, Jean-Michel Basquiat

Jean-Michel Basquiat's Most Expensive Painting... The Masterpiece "Untitled" (1982)

Basquiat's "Untitled" painting from 1982 stands as a quintessential example of his groundbreaking oeuvre. Executed in his signature style of vibrant colors, frenetic brushwork, and enigmatic imagery, the painting epitomizes Basquiat's ability to channel raw emotion and social commentary into visually arresting compositions.

At the heart of "Untitled" lies a potent blend of references to African American culture, street art, and contemporary urban life, inviting viewers to contemplate issues of identity, power, and belonging.

In May 2017, "Untitled" made headlines around the world when it sold at auction for a staggering $110.5 million, shattering previous records for Basquiat's work and cementing his place among the pantheon of art history's most revered figures. The sale, which took place at Sotheby's in New York, marked a watershed moment for Basquiat's legacy and underscored the growing demand for his work among collectors and institutions alike.

As we reflect on Basquiat's most expensive painting, we are reminded of the timeless power of art to challenge, provoke, and inspire.

While the astronomical price tag attached to "Untitled" undoubtedly garnered attention, its true significance lies in its cultural impact and enduring relevance.

Basquiat's art transcends mere monetary value, serving as a powerful testament to the artist's uncompromising vision and his ability to articulate the complexities of the human experience with honesty and authenticity.

"Untitled" embodies the spirit of artistic innovation and social critique that defined Basquiat's brief but prolific career, resonating with audiences across generations and continents.

"Untitled" serves as a potent reminder of Basquiat's enduring legacy, inviting us to engage with his work not only as objects of aesthetic beauty but also as catalysts for reflection, dialogue, and change.

Basquiat's Art Passion is an in-demand fuel in the art world.

It is always a challenge to turn passion into a successful career, even if you lack the skills and the natural talent to impress the viewers with fine art skills, passion is a huge amount of internal energy that if utilized effectively could guarantee success and superiority in any field.

A passion for specific practices is a huge advantage that must be exploited. Indeed, passion is an in-demand fuel in the art world.

The short story of Jean-Michel Basquiat is a case of an artist who was able to skip mastering fine art classical techniques and mastered the process of marketing himself as an artist.

Basquiat was able to increase the exposure of his art and his message by utilizing the controversial story of his street graffiti. The artist's story written in his biography, and social life appear to have a strong impact on his success.

Though painting is not about words, the few letters Basquiat embedded in his artworks contributed in some way to the wide success Basquiat achieved in his art career.

Information like name, medium, and background, where the artist was born? where was his studio? and even when he first became interested in art. These details are to be taken care of while showing the case of an artist.

In an era marked by social and political upheaval, Basquiat's voice remains as urgent and relevant as ever, speaking truth to power and challenging us to confront the injustices that persist in our society. As collectors clamor to acquire a piece of his legacy, we are reminded that Basquiat's true value lies not in his price tag, but in the profound impact of his art on the world around us.

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