Art briefing – Jean-Michel Basquiat is the only black american painter to have made a substantial mark on the history of art. He is amongst the most influential artist of an international movement started around 1980 which was marked by the post-modern return to figurative painting.
He died at age 27. Basquiat is art’s answer to jimi hendrix and charlie parker. Although his work might look unsophisticated at first, it is evidence of a powerful poetical and visual gift. Basquiat was getting an international echo with his work before most of the artists his age had time to finish art school.
Luckily, Basquiat has left us a trenchant summary of his early life in untitled.
i like kids’ work more than work by real artist any day. I was writing gold on that stuff and i made all this money right afterwards.
I just want to live life james dean. I start with a picture and then finish it. I don’t think about art when i’m working. I try to think about life.
I cross out words so you will see them more: the fact that they are obscured makes you want to read them.
My subject matters are royalty, heroism, and the streets. I don’t know how to describe my work because it’s not always the same thing. It’s like asking miles davis: “well, how does your horn sound?”
People think i’m burning out, but i’m not. Some days i can’t get an idea, and i think, man, i’m just washed up, but it’s just a mood. Since i was seventeen, i thought i might be a star. I’d think about all my heroes, charlie parker, jimi hendrix… i had a romantic feeling of how people had become famous. Picasso arrived at primitive art
n order to give of its nobility to western art. And i arrived at picasso to give his nobility to the art called “primitive”.