Jean-Michel Basquiat

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Born on December 22, 1960, Jean-Michel Basquiat, was renowned both as an artist and musician. His work was famous for its many suggestive dichotomies like poverty versus wealth. Also his doodles gained immense amount of acknowledgment from the masses. He is also known for his numerous social commentaries.

Jean spent most of his childhood in Brooklyn, New York. He had three siblings, two of whom were younger than him. Jean’s mother was of the Puerto Rican origin while his father was Haitian. Both of them were art lovers and encouraged Jean in the pursuit of his artistic dreams.

From a very young age, Jean’s intelligent mind raised eyebrows. He was a fluent reader and writer by the age of four and began drawing very well. His teachers took notice of his unique capabilities and informed his parents. By the age of eleven, Jean had gained mastery in a number of languages.

In his childhood, Jean was hit by a car. He then underwent a surgery to get his spleen removed. When he was hospitalized, his mother brought him a book called Gray’s anatomy which is known have influenced his work to a great degree. The bio-mechanical pictures in the book became a big foundation of many of Jean’s graffiti work. Soon after, his parents got divorced and he was raised by the father. He spent the next five years in Brooklyn in between which his mother got admitted to a mental hospital. Jean then ran away from his home before being handed to his father by the police.

Jean subsequently dropped out of his school. The decision that was faced with immense opposition from his father. He, however, did not give in. Consequently, his father threw Jean out of the house, forcing him to live with a friend in Brooklyn. During the time, he supported himself by selling t-shirts.

In 1976, Jean began spray painting graffiti on buildings under a pseudonym SAMO with a friend named Diaz. On the side, he joined the art department of a clothing warehouse. Soon after, Jean’s graffiti got published in a widely read newspaper. However, SAMO could not last for much longer due to Jean’s faltering relationship with Diaz.

In 1979, Jean began making appearance on a live show hosted by O’Brien. The two began to grow closer and Jean became an important part of his show. He even got to promote his paintings with the help of the program.

In 1980, Jean ran into the artist Andy Warhol who seeing Jean’s work was in complete awe. The two later worked together on a number of projects. In the later years, Jean worked in Modena in Italy and then his California home. At the time he was dating then unknown Madonna. He continued surveying works by a number of artists and in a variety of art forms.

In 1983, Jean also explored a number of musical genres and eventually ended up producing a rap single which’s cover showcased his own artwork.

By 1986, Jean began to exhibit his work at the Mary Boone gallery. His work also appeared in magazines. It was during this time that his heroin addiction became a grave problem. The predicament became even more severe after the death of Andy Warhol in 1987. Jean-Michel Basquiat became more reclusive and despite making a number of attempts to become sober, eventually became a victim of heroin overdose on August 12, 1988. He died at the young age of 27.


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