Watch Basquiat Painting Live Downtown

Zuzanna Stańska 22 December 2023 min Read

Jean-Michel Basquiat was a Haitian-American artist that achieved fame as part of SAMO, an informal graffiti duo famous for enigmatic epigrams in the cultural hotbed of the Lower East Side of Manhattan.  It was during the late 1970s that the hip-hop, post-punk, and street art movements coalesced there. By the 1980s, he was exhibiting his Neo-Expressionist paintings in galleries and museums internationally; even the renowned Whitney Museum of American Art held a retrospective of his art in 1992.

Basquiat Painting Jean-Michel Basquiat, Fallen Angel, 1981
Jean-Michel Basquiat, Fallen Angel, 1981, private collection. Phillips. 

Basquiat’s art practice involved the so-called “suggestive dichotomies”: wealth versus poverty, integration versus segregation, and inner versus outer experience. He appropriated various mediums and art forms such as poetry, drawing, and painting, and juxtaposed text and image, abstraction, figuration, and historical information mixed with contemporary critique.

Basquiat Painting philistines
Jean-Michel Basquiat, Philistines, 1982, private collection. WikiArt.

Basquiat used social commentary in his paintings as a “springboard to deeper truths about the individual” as well as attacks on power structures and systems of racism. His poetics were acutely political and direct in their criticism of colonialism and support for class struggle. He met a tragic end in 1988: he died of a heroin overdose in his art studio at age 27.

Below you can watch him in the process of creating his street art:


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