Basquiat, Jean-Michel

Basquiat, Jean-Michel

(bäs'kē-ät`), 1960–88, American painter, b. Brooklyn, N.Y. Born into a middle-class Haitian and Puerto Rican family, he was a 1980s art star whose rise and fall were rapid, dramatic, and emblematic of the era. A rebel, high-school dropout, and part of the downtown New York scene, he was influenced by the violence of street life, the variety of African-American life, multiculturalism, and the emerging hip-hop culture. He was also strongly influenced by the life and work of Andy WarholWarhol, Andy,
1928–87, American artist and filmmaker, b. Pittsburgh as Andrew Warhola. The leading exponent of the pop art movement and one of the most influential artists of the late 20th cent.
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, who became his mentor, and by the work of such artists as PicassoPicasso, Pablo
(Pablo Ruiz y Picasso) , 1881–1973, Spanish painter, sculptor, graphic artist, and ceramist, who worked in France. He is generally considered in his technical virtuosity, enormous versatility, and incredible originality and prolificity to have been the
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, MatisseMatisse, Henri
, 1869–1954, French painter, sculptor, and lithographer. Along with Picasso, Matisse is considered one of the two foremost artists of the modern period. His contribution to 20th-century art is inestimably great.
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, and Cy Twombly. Basquiat started as a graffiti artist, making images and writing slogans on the walls of buildings and on painted T-shirts, found-object assemblages, and paintings. In the early 1980s he was "discovered" by the art establishment, and his vigorously spontaneous works in paint, collage, and crayon on unprimed canvas, featuring crude, angry, and rawly powerful figures and graffitilike written text, were much sought after by collectors. He died of a heroin overdose at the age of 27. By the early years of the 21st cent. he was hailed as one of the finest American neoexpessionists of his era.

Bibliography

See biography by P. Hoban (1998); studies by R. Marshall (1992), L. Emmerling (2003), and M. Mayer, ed. (2005); exhibition catalogs by D. Buchart. ed. (2014) and F. Sirmans (2014).