© Topfoto Archive/BARCROFT/MAXPPP
Jean-Michel Basquiat

© Topfoto Archive/BARCROFT/MAXPPP

Jean-Michel Basquiat

1960 - 1988, born in Brooklyn (New-York City) and died in New-York City (New-York City, United States of America)


Jean-Michel Basquiat, an American with a Haitian father, gained recognition as an artist in the 1980s. His rise to prominence was swift but his career was cut short.

Between 1977 and 1980 he was a graffiti artist, tagging his mysterious, subversive messages with the name SAMO©. By 1980 he was frequenting artists such as Andy Warhol, Keith Haring and Francesco Clemente, and abandoned graffiti for painting. Buoyed by the energy of hip hop with its sampling, scratching and DJ culture, his practice drew on many influences such as Picasso, Penck, Schwitters, Dubuffet as well as Cobra movement, jazz and voodoo. His frame of reference expanded to include history and global literature, from Homer to Napoleon and Malcolm X. His style was characterised by a bold and sparing colour palette, and the use of symbols such as the crown and skull, as well as numbers and scientific formulas. Like palimpsests, his works feature layers of drawing, scratches, painting, collages of photocopies and objects. The chaotic complexity of his compositions reveals a spontaneous exuberance and a mastery of different materials and techniques, from acrylic to screen-printing, markers to sprays.

Selected Bibliography

Nuridsany, Michel. Jean-Michel Basquiat. Paris : Flammarion, 2015. (Grandes biographies).

Carron de la Carrière, Marie-Sophie ; Buchhart, Dieter ; O'Brien, Glenn... [et al.]. Basquiat : [exposition], musée d'art moderne, 15 octobre 2010-30 janvier 2011. Paris : Paris-Musées, 2010.

O'Brien, Glenn ; Bertoglio, Edo ; Maripol. New York beat : Jean-Michel Basquiat in downtown 81. Tokyo : Petit Grand Pub., 2001.

Marshall, Richard ; Hebdige, Dick ; Kertess, Klaus. Jean-Michel Basquiat : [exhibition, New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, October 23, 1992-February 14, 1993 ; Houston, Menil Collection, March 11-May 9, 1993 ; Iowa, Des Moines Art Center, May 22-August 15, 1993 ; Alabama, Montgomery Museum of Fine arts, November 18, 1993-January 9, 1994]. New York : Whitney Museum of American Art, 1992.

Millet, Bernard ; Valabrègue, Frédéric ; Piguet, Philippe. Jean-Michel Basquiat : une rétrospective : [exposition, Musée Cantini, Marseille, 4 juillet-20 septembre 1992]. Marseille : Musées de Marseille ; Paris : RMN, 1992.

***   All materials available at the Documentation Centre of the Fondation  ***