1960 born in Brooklyn / 1988 died in New York
"My work has nothing to do with graffiti. It is painting and always has been".
"Every line has a meaning".
Basquiat soared into the heavens of art like a shining star, and then in 1988 at the age of 28 he died of an overdose. His explosive new aesthetic – iconoclastic and obscene – shock the puritan WASP art world from its prolonged slumber.
In less than eight years Basquiat succeeded in establishing new figurative and expressive elements alongside the Conception Art and Minimal Art that had dictated the style of America and Europe. Faced with the enthusiasm with which his work was greeted, particularly in Europe, America found itself obliged to shake off its initial indifference and for the first time to recognize a black artist as the symbol of the creative potential of the ethnic minorities.
The meteoric rise of the young painter, whose mother came from Puerto Rico and father from Haiti, shock America. Basquiat was black, had no art training and came from the New York underground. From the age of 18 he had covered house walls in SoHo and carriages on the underground railway with angry, frantic images. His iconography was brutal, destructive, without hierarchy and rules, virtuoso, furious and seductive. It took its bearings from Haiti, Puerto Rico, an imaginary Africa and Pop Art. With his gigantic skulls, grilles and feathers, threateningly gaping mouth and top hats – he opened art up to dissolution, and instability, to the "other" and to the "negative". During the ten years in which he had a decisive influence on art, the most successful black American painter embodied the New Wave version of the epoch-making figure of the accursed artist.