Jean-Michel Basquiat; A Prolific Black Graffiti Artist in New York Becomes a World Renowned Neo-Expressionist Painter in The 80S

Jean-Michel Basquiat is a fascinating individual. I found out about him while watching the movie Basquait on Hulu, though there are other movies about his life such as Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child, a documentary shot by Tamara Davis. Jean-Michel Basquiant was a graffiti artist from the 70s at the beginning of the hip-hop movie that was discovered and became a neo-expressionist painting during the 80s. He found fame, hung out with Andy Warhol, who was his best friend during his later years but he died shortly after Andy Warhol was killed in 1988 from a heroin overdose.

His work started off using poetic phrases in the SAMO graffiti form. This form existed between 1977 and 1980 in Manhattan. It become a huge part of his neo-expressionist work in the 80s, and part of the mystique of his graffiti inspired art. The art world had no idea what the phrases were talking about. Jean-Michel Basquiat is known for his work as a painter, but he was also a noise rock artist before he was famous for his painting.

In the film Basquait a lot of attention is paid to the fact that Jean-Michel Basquiat was a young Black artist in a White world. He was okay when he did his noise rock and hung out with the punk crowd. but when he was discovered and sold his painting to rich Whites who came from a different world from the one he had grown up in and created for himself he faced a lot of difficulties. He was successful, he even dated Madonna in 1982, but his demons; the fact that his mother was locked up in a mental institution, the death of Andy Warhol, whom he had isolated himself with and neglected those that were there for him in the beginning for, the love of his life who he had pushed aside for Madonna that no longer wanted to deal with him, consumed him. He had a good life, but he was a depressed and angry individual, which contributed to his heroin use.

The movie is a fascinating look at a young artist who was once homeless and sleeping in cardboard boxes and had ultimately rejected his upbringing that ended up hanging out with celebrities and walking around the streets of Brooklyn in Armani suits with paint splattered on them. He had money, but ultimately was never truly accepted into the upper echelons of the rich whose approval he so desperately sought. It is a nice look at what happens with a kid from the streets makes it into a world that he was never fully prepared to be a part of.