Basquiat (Black History 365)

To start the new month of February we’re in Black History month but from my perspective, the totality of the black experience cannot be appreciated in a month and most certainly not during the shortest month of the year. Why is it on the shortest month? I wish I knew but I have a hunch that an oversupply of knowledge of the black experience might cause the revolution to finally be televised. Anyways, this is my fourth entry in my series titled Black History 365 and I want to start the month off with a look at the life of a vibrant individual who represented the struggle for the oppressed using social commentary through his abstract paintings in New York City, his name was Jean-Michel Basquiat. Basquiat was born in Brooklyn New York in 1960 to a Puerto Rican mother and Haitian immigrant father, the combination of the two ethnicity allowed Basquiat to be fluent in French, Spanish and English and this would pay off as French poetry would influence his visual art as he grew older. He displayed a talent in art in his early childhood, drawing and painting with his mother’s encouragement and would accompany her to New York Museums and by the age of six Jean Michel was enrolled as a junior member of the Brooklyn Museum. Basquiat’s early artwork after being hit by a car at a young age had to with anatomy due to receiving a copy of Grey’s Anatomy from his mother. By seventeen he launched his first foray into the art world with his friend Al Dias. They spray-painted cryptic statements and symbols all over Manhattan with the signature name of SAMO. This name came up when the two were having a stoned conversation about the Marijuana they were smoking, his friend Diaz calling the weed they smoked as “the same old shit” which was shorted to “same old” and finally SAMO. Basquiat had interesting techniques when it came to his art creations and would be creative and resourceful in ways he could get his across to the masses. For instance, when he couldnt afford canvasses he would use discarded wood he found in the street. Oil sticks, Crayons, Spray paint, and pencils were his choice art materials. He would include poetry and quotes from comic books, textbooks and other material he could find that would help his art convey a message more than just the visual components. As with other visual artists he simultaneously worked on multiple projects and that is evident with the vast amount of work he accumulated is his short life. Furthermore, Basquiat was often associated with Neo-experssionism achieving acclaim within only a few shorts years showing alongside artists like Julian Schnabel, David Salle, and Francesco Clemente. In 1983 Basquiat met mentor and idol Andy Warhol who he collaborated with on paintings before Warhol’s death in 1987 and the demise of Basquiat a year later in 1988 due to a heroin overdose. Basquiat from my perspective had a chaotic, messy, vibrant, and most importantly compelling work that influenced street artists and visual artists as a whole. Below this post are some his famous artwork. In closing, we’re in a new month and it’s so called Black History month in the U.S. but Black History is American history and many renowned black figures have cemented their legacy in a myriad of ways and I wanted to start the month of with a splash (pun intended) presenting the work and life of an Jean- Michel Basquiat a man who expressed the beauty in the struggle of the oppressed in the U.S. and world, it’s just unfortunate that his life was cut short but he left behind an array of work as many young deceased artist have done. Leave a like and comment if you feel the need to or want to chime in with knowledge about this individual and give my page a follow so you can stay up to date with my future posts. As always peace and keep it real.

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