Jean-Michel Basquiat was an American artist. Born in Brooklyn, New York, on December 22, 1960 to Gerard Basquiat, born in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti and a Puerto Rican-American mother, Matilde Andrades Basquiat. Jean-Michel Basquiat's diverse cultural heritage was one of his many sources of inspiration.
Throughout his career Basquiat focused on "suggestive dichotomies," such as wealth versus poverty, integration versus segregation, and inner versus outer experience. Basquiat's art utilized a synergy of appropriation, poetry, drawing and painting, which married text and image, abstraction and figuration, and historical information mixed with contemporary critique. Utilizing social commentary as a "springboard to deeper truths about the individual", Basquiat's paintings also attacked power structures and systems of racism, while his poetics were acutely political and direct in their criticism of colonialism and support for class struggle.
A self-taught artist, Basquiat first attracted attention for his graffiti under the name "SAMO" in New York City. He sold sweatshirts and postcards featuring his artwork on the streets before his painting career took off. He participated in his first group show in 1980 and had his first one-man exhibition in Milan, Italy, the following year.
Basquiat collaborated with famed pop artist Andy Warhol in the mid-1980s, which resulted in a show of their work. He became an internationally known artist, receiving critical acclaim for the fusion of words, symbols, stick figures, and animals found in his work.
Basquiat died of a drug overdose on August 12, 1988. He was 27. Although his art career was brief, he has been credited with bringing the African-American and Latino experience in the elite art world.