Jean-Michel Basquiat

1960 (New York) / 1988 (New York)
Living in : New York
Working in : New York

Seeking to be famous at all costs, Jean-Michel wanted to be a poet at the time. Living on acid and street drugs after running away from his father Gérard Basquiat, a wealthy Haitian accountant, the 16-year-old joined forces with Al Diaz, whom he had met in high school, in 1976 to create the fictitious religion of SAMO©, an acronym for "Same Old Shit". Covering the blighted streets of Lower Manhattan with enigmatic aphorisms elegantly spray-painted, SAMO is noted for its literary qualities. Putting SAMO© to death the following year, Jean-Michel then invested himself in music, playing the synthesizer, the clarinet, the bell and even the shopping cart. [...]
The year 1982 will have been for Basquiat that of his accession to the throne of king with three points. Coming out of the basement of Annina Nosei's gallery, he found himself associated with the Italian Trans-avant-garde in Modena, before heading to Los Angeles with Larry Gagosian, and being selected to participate in the Dokumenta in Kassel. Barely out of a graffiti world that was never his, the 21-year-old street kid became rich and famous in one fell swoop. His Swiss dealer Bruno Bischofberger - whom he described as a "good shark" - invited him to a one-on-one lunch with Warhol on October 4, 1982. After wondering, skeptically, if Basquiat was really an important artist, the Pop master wrote in his diary: "I took a Polaroid, he went home and two hours later he sent me a painting, barely dry, of the two of us. I am jealous, he is faster than me!"

Emmanuel Daydé

Jean-Michel Basquiat at the Canal Zone Party, New York, 1979 © Anton Perich

Artist's issues

Issue 106

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