Monday, October 6, 2014

Basquiat at Prospect.3

   Jean-Michel Basquiat was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1960 from an Haitian father and a Puerto Rican mother. Early on, he visited museums with his mother and following an accident in which he was severely injured, she bought him the Gray's Anatomy book to distract him. Unfortunately, she suffered from a severe mental illness and was committed to a mental institution. From then on, Basquiat was raised by his father and his parents separated. He ran away at 15 years old and was eventually banned from home, living in the streets and supporting himself with small jobs like selling T-shirts. He never had a formal training but started to draw at an early age and did not graduate from high school. 
He started to spray paint buildings in 1976 signing his graffiti .SAMO (same old shit), the project went on for two years and was featured in the Village Voice. In 1979, SAMO IS DEAD, a graffiti on the walls of Soho buildings announced the end of the project.

Basquiat by then was becoming famous, appearing on television shows. He also formed the rock band Test Pattern (renamed Gray later) and performed in nightclubs. In 1980, under the umbrella of the Annina Nosei gallery he had a first solo show followed by an article in Artforum in 1981 which brought his works to the art world's attention. He was affiliated with Neo-Expressionism.
In 1982, he traveled to Italy, then worked for Larry Gagosian during a stay in Venice, CA, far from his NYC roots and friends and from 1983 till 1985 worked with Andy Warhol on series of collaborative paintings. But the artist became more isolated and depressed, overtaken by his heroin addiction. The death of  Andy Warhol in 1987 precipitated a down spiral of Basquiat's life who died in August 1988 of a drug overdose. Julian Schnabel portraits the artist in the film "Basquiat" in 1996.

An exhibition of works from Jean-Michel Basquiat will take place during Prospect.3 at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans.  The Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris presented a major retrospective of his work in 2010.


                                                   "Zydeco", 1984, Jean-Michel Basquiat

photograph by the author

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