Basquiat: Radiant Child

The life and career of Jean-Michel Basquiat sadly came to an abrupt end on August 12th, 1988. A New York City native, Basquiat found himself in the streets at the tender age of 15. With nowhere to go and no one to rely on Basquiat became a graffiti artist who shocked downtown with his unorthodox style and took on the name SAMO. He was quickly noticed by other downtown artists and assimilated into the art world of SoHo quickly.

His meteoric rise to fame occurred in such a short period of time, a time of interesting artistic transition. Having emerged from the Pop Art of the 60's and 70's, the art world was faced with a rebuffed importance and economic capital. Basquiat may be the most important artist of our century based off a number of aspects. Among them would be his accelerated rise to fame, the blatant racial themes he expressed, his post-modern expression of form and color, and the ways in which he treated his own art work.

His art emerged in a time that favored conceptual minimalism, whereas what he was producing work that was more neoexpressionist and pictorially complex. His use of color and image composition was influenced by the bebop music which he so loved. This was a wonderful - and for most people a refreshing - departure from the droll and homogenous art of the time. His work was dense and full of life that, while maintaining a gauche appearance, had cultural, social, and political dimensions that were generally not the fad in the popular art of the time. His voice was of an unprecedented volume in a time that favored the right to his left.


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