From SAMO to Basquiat
Jean Michel Basquiat was a talented and controversial artist who rose to fame in the 1980s. Born in Brooklyn, New York, he was the son of a Haitian father and a Puerto Rican mother. As a child, he was exposed to a wide range of artistic influences, from the graffiti of his native Brooklyn to the paintings of the European masters.
“I don’t listen to what art critics say. I don’t know anybody who needs a critic to find out what art is.”
Basquiat first gained recognition as a street artist, working under the pseudonym "SAMO" to create provocative and politically charged graffiti art. His early works often featured images of black culture and history, and addressed themes of racism, social injustice, and inequality.
“I start a picture and I finish it. I don’t think about art while I work. I try to think about life.”
In the 1980s, Basquiat transitioned from street art to the gallery scene, where he quickly became a sought-after artist. His work was characterized by bold, vibrant colors and a distinctive, expressive style. He often incorporated words and phrases into his paintings, creating a unique and compelling form of visual storytelling.
Basquiat's attitude towards art and creativity was one of defiance and rebellion. He saw art as a means of challenging the status quo and pushing the boundaries of what was considered acceptable. He believed that art should be raw and authentic, and that it should speak to the experiences and struggles of marginalized communities.
Despite his success, Basquiat struggled with addiction and mental health issues throughout his life. He died of a heroin overdose in 1988 at the age of 27.
In many ways, Basquiat was a pioneer, paving the way for a new generation of artists who would follow in his footsteps. Today, his work is celebrated as a powerful and enduring testament to the power of creativity and the human spirit.
“I think there’s a lot of people that are neglected in art.”