Jean-Michel Basquiat

Active - 1981 - 2020  |   Born - Dec 22, 1960   |   Died - Aug 12, 1998   |   Genres - Comedy Drama, Visual Arts

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Biography by Nathan Southern

Late 20th century artist Jean-Michel Basquiat grew up as the son of a Haitian accountant and evinced one of the most unusual painting styles in memory. Basquiat reportedly gravitated to artistic work on an instinctive level as a young boy, simply by etching out illustrations on sheets of paper brought home by his father; he later segued to painting without any rigid guidelines or any formalized artistic training. His distinct and inimitable style (which remained fairly consistent over time) coupled angular faces with the appearance of singular words on the tableaux. Andy Warhol admired the young man so much that the two forged a close friendship and even appeared in a painting together. Their dynamic was immortalized by painter-turned-director Julian Schnabel in the critically acclaimed biopic Basquiat (1996), with Jeffrey Wright cast as the young artist. Tragically, Basquiat died of a drug overdose at age 27 in the fall of 1988. Basquiat himself made one of his only film appearances in the loosely structured essay film Downtown 81 (2000), a freewheeling trip through the Manhattan avant-garde of the early '80s.

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