Jean-Michel Basquiat was born on December 22, 1960, in Brooklyn, New York. ith a Haitian-American father and a Puerto Rican mother, Basquiat's diverse cultural heritage was one of his many sources of inspiration.
He first attracted attention for his graffiti under the name "SAMO" in New York City.
He sold sweatshirts and postcards featuring his artwork on the streets before his painting career took off. He collaborated with Andy Warhol in the mid-1980s, which resulted in a show of their work. Basquiat died on August 12, 1988, in New York City.
In his earlier works, Basquiat was known for using a crown motif, which was his way of celebrating black people as majestic royalty or deeming them as saints.
On his own, Basquiat continued to exhibit around the country and the world. In 1986, he traveled to Africa for a show in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. That same year, the 25-year-old exhibited nearly 60 paintings at the Kestner-Gesellschaft Gallery in Hanover, Germany — becoming the youngest artist to ever showcase his work there.
Basquiat died of a drug overdose on August 12, 1988, in New York City. He was 27 years old.
Although his art career was brief, Jean-Michel Basquiat has been credited with bringing the African-American and Latino experience into the elite art world.
After his death, the artist was back in the spotlight in May 2017 when a Japanese billionaire bought “Untitled,” a 1982 painting of a skull, for $110.5 million at a Sotheby’s auction. The sale set a record for the highest price for a work by an American artist and for an artwork created after 1980. It was also the highest price for a painting by Basquiat and by a black artist.