Jean Michel Basquiat was an American artist he also happened to be one of the top-selling American artists. Some of his paintings sold for prices of to $57.5 million and they were all unique and they had some way of portraying current issues. Jean is also a very interesting man with a strange life from his birth to his death.
Jean was born December 22, 1960 in Brooklyn, New York he did not start out as some great artist from a young age. Jean had a Haitian American father and a Puerto Rican mother giving him a very diverse cultural heritage. Jean would always draw on paper his father would bring home from work and his mother was a big supporter of his passion for art. He first gained attention from his graffiti under the name of ‘’SAMO’’ in New York City so that is what gave his painting style so unique. Jean kept this element of graffiti with his painting which is what made them seem so abstract and colorful. Jean dropped out of high school in 1977 a year before he was supposed to graduate. He then made a living by selling his work on the street’s things like postcards, and sweatshirts before he eventually took off.
In the 1980s Jean collaborated with a very famous pop artist Andy Warhol that is where Jean started to gain a lot of popularity. They showcased a series of logos and cartoon characters that were very different from what people were used to. After his collaboration with Warhol, Basquiat moved on and showcased more of his artwork around the world and became one of the youngest showcasing artists in certain parts of the world. It was not easy for Jean though it was three long years of struggling and then finally gave way to fame in 1980. Many people loved the way Jean mixed the elements of words, symbols, stick figures and animals and the public quickly had no problem paying very high prices for his original work. Basquiat brought a new wave of experimental young artists to rise and try to change the traditional way of art.
As the popularity of Jean rose so did more and more personal problems for the young artist by the 1980s lots of his friends became increasingly worried about him. Jean became an excessive drug user which eventually led to his early death at the age of 27 August 12, 1988 from an overdose. The stress of being a famous artist and trying to come up with new ideas that people want was a lot on Basquiat. Jean was described with having a crown motif showing African Americans as majestic royalty and that is what you can find in many of his paintings. They described Jean's crown with having three points the poet, the musician, and the great boxing champion.
Jean’s friends said that he was exploited, and some said, “he resented being a black man whose fate twisted with the whims of an all whit jury of artistic powers”. His appetite for drugs was probably fed by his long-term wealth. Jean probably loved to live the life of fame but did not like to deal with the crushing burdens that come with it. Jean’s biggest influence was said to be his idol Andy Warhol and all the friends of Basquiat said Andy may be the only one who could stop his addiction. Andy was having a sort of rein of Basquiat’s life and influence but after the death of Warhol it seemed that no one would be able to help him. At that point it seemed there was no influence great enough to help Jean with his growing appetite for narcotics. Jean’s father was angry about the low effort his friends put up being upset about his friends not calling him and telling him about Jean’s addiction. Basquiat’s friends and family said he would not be remembered by his death but by his unique style and how he did not just paint on canvases but on everyday objects.
Jean’s biggest worry was that his artwork would not be seen for what it is until he died so it probably brought great joy to him to see people seeing his art for what it really is while he was alive. After his death people came from all around the world in order to try and get some of his artwork everyone loved it and they saw all these primitive figures and abstract way of seeing things. Everyone said that Basquiat never had the same art dealer for long he did not have a lot of consistency and he would move around making it harder for him to feel stable most likely increasing his use of drugs. Whenever Jean was introduced into the art world it was all about making money and collecting artwork started to get bigger and so he saw that, and it made him want to get into the art scene even more. Sadly, in the end of it all Jean was found dead in his apartment in East Village at the age of 27.
There were two movies made about Basquiat one was made in 2010 titled ‘’Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child’’ and another made in 2017 titled ‘’Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat”. The Radiant Child was mainly about the come-up of Basquiat and how being a black artist having to face constant racism and misconceptions. Even through all that he still made it as a famous artist and brought a whole new wave of art to the world. The movie showed the mysterious nature of the man and the movie worked powerfully to show the life of Basquiat. Then Boom for Real made in 2017 showed never seen works and photographs and recordings for Jean and it gave us an all-new look into his life.
With Basquiat’s crown motif it was a way of showing visual language through his art and being able to convey some sort of message. The public loved the crown motif and it helped jean gain even more popularity which gave more stress to Basquiat. Jean was eventually unable to handle it all because he was just so unique that he was a magnet for getting noticed. Jean might not have wanted all that attention, but he did not really have a choice because he basically brought a whole new form of art into existence. The art movement that Basquiat had inspired was called Neo-expressionism it was a form of art that was made somewhat by the painter himself/herself. The reason why is because it was just a way of expressing yourself through your art however you pleased and using whatever kind of symbols and words whatever it is you wanted.
Jean had inspired a few young artists to also rise to fame through his art movement and unique style of painting. The new wave of artist he inspired artists like Julian Schnabel and Susan Rothenberg but there were many more and there are probably still some artists today that are inspired by Basquiat. Julian Schnabel born October 26, 1951 in Brooklyn, New York was one of the young minds at the time to be inspired by Basquiat and his Neo-expressionist art style. Julian was not just a painter though he was also a filmmaker and a sculptor and even a filmmaker. Julian’s style was popular through its chaotic profusion of styles and sources showing how the legacy of Neo-expressionism carried on after Basquiat’s death.
The other well-known young artist to come from the new wave Susan Rothenberg born in Buffalo, New York 1945. Susan spent most of her life in Buffalo and her parents just wanted her to graduate and have a normal life with a good husband. That is not what Susan wanted she became very interested in art at an early age. Susan’s grandfather was a house painter and a family friend was an amateur painter and with their influence on Susan it set her path to become a famous painter. Susan had great enthusiasm for painting and sculpture she enrolled at Cornell University and began studying sculpture. Susan eventually quit sculpting because her teacher said she had no talent for it, so she then switched to painting that is where she began to paint her famous ‘’Horse Series’’.
The influence of Basquiat made it so more and more new young artists could change the way of traditional art and make it into something new for everyone to try. It made it easier for people to see new ideas and styles and understand them in a way so more and more people could make a living off art. It is also how we can have what we do today with all the various art styles we have with video games and interior design and other things letting things evolve and grow. Art itself is supposed to be excepted and seen as it is because art is whatever the creator wants it to be. Art should not be defined by others only by those who make it and the ones that do try to define it lack the ability or creativity to just be able to see it. There does not have to always be an explanation for something you need to let it confuse you so you can see it in all the different ways it is meant to be seen. A painting that is abstract is supposed to be shaped by the mind of the viewer giving way to numerous different paintings all in one. The distortion of reality in paintings is to give people this all new version of which they see the world and what is contained in the painting.
Then with Basquiat being the top-selling American artist his paintings went for obscure amounts it was almost uncomprehend able what some of his original works sold for. One of the biggest reasons they went for so much and now cost even more is because of his untimely young death. As an artist or painter especially one of which that may be very famous your original works are valuable as it is but while you’re alive there are more of which to come and given life. Once said artist or you are dead however there will no longer be any new paintings or creations making whatever existing works that you have made that are still around become very rare and valued. That is how it goes with many famous artist and Basquiat especially because before him the kind of artwork he produced was unseen and unheard of they were just something that people wanted or believed that they needed because of how different they were. They were always so simple when you first look but the more you look at his paintings the more you would begin to see.
Whenever you are to look at a Basquiat painting such as the Untitled you think how something like that could be worth so much? The reason for it is because depending on the person who is trying to buy it, the connection they have to it. They could look at it for a time and lose or find themselves in it the paintings can open this conversation or thought you have with yourself. They can make you think and contemplate and come up with new meanings to your life or think of new things that you might want to do or purse. That is the wonderous side to art the way it may make you feel physically, emotionally, and spiritually and that is what makes people want to pay so much for it. Granted the man who bought Untitled was a Japanese billionaire so $110 million might not have been to bad to him the reason why he payed that much is because of the way the painting spoke to him. The way he connected to it the way it made him think or the way that he saw it.
Jean Michel Basquiat was a very amazing artist in the way of his paintings themselves and what they led to. The brand-new art style of Neo-expressionism bringing with it Julian Schnabel and Susan Rothenberg. How he made a living after dropping out of high school on the streets to working alongside of Andy Warhol. Back to when he was young and first started drawing on spare sheets of paper from his dad and the encouragement from it led to something much greater for him. Basquiat was an amazing artist from a hard beginning, but he made it and that should inspire others that you can make it to if you try enough. Do not worry about what others are doing now that makes them famous make something new and never seen before that will make you get noticed much faster. So is his legacy with Basquiat’s three-pointed crown and his graffiti art with the abstract obscurity of words and symbols.
Cite this Essay
To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below