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Jean-Michel Basquiat - The art worlds member of the '27 club'

Updated: Oct 11, 2021

Jean-Michel Basquiat, a name some may know. Some may not. His images, on the other hand, are some of the most recognisable images in modern history. His tragic death at the age of just 27 rocked the art world.

Basquiat was an American artist of Haitian/Puerto Rican descent. After gaining attention as part of the informal graffiti duo SAMO in the '70s. In the early 80's he was regularly being exhibited around the world and was the youngest ever participant in Documenta in Kassel and the youngest artist ever to exhibit his work at the Whitney Biennial in New York.

Basquiat's art frequently focused on dichotomies like wealth versus poverty and Integration versus segregation. He often appropriated poetry, painting, drawing and historical information mixed with contemporary critique.

Social commentary for introspection and identifying with his experiences in the black community at the time.

'Pez Dispenser' Jean-Michel Basquiat

Since his tragic death from a heroin overdose at the age of just 27 his pieces have steadily increased in value. At a Sothebys auction in May 2017, 'Untitled' painted in 1982 depicting a black skull with red and yellow Rivulets sold for $110 million.

'Untitled' Jean-Michel Basquiat

From 1980 until his death in 1988 Basquiat would appear numerous times across most media forms. He appeared with Debbie Harry after selling his first painting to her in both 'Downtown 81' and the music video from Blondie's 'Rapture'. Basquiat would go on to form strong bonds with the artist Andy Warhol collaborating on the painting 'Olympics'.

Basquiat struggled to deal with the death of his friend Andy Warhol in February 1987. His continued heroin use was put down to the burgeoning pressures of the fame and loss that he had experienced over the preceding years.

'Olympics' - Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol.

Basquiat battled addiction for most of the later years of his life. Despite numerous attempts at sobriety Jean-Michel Basquiat was found dead at his Manhattan apartment on August 12th 1988. Aged just 27 Basquiat was added to the infamous 27 club of rock stars and musicians who tragically also had their lives cut short at such an early age. Members include Kurt Cobain, Ami Winehouse, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin amongst others.

As Keith Harris stated in the obituary for Basquiat he had written in Vogue magazine, "He truly created a lifetime of works in ten years. Greedily we wonder what else he might have created, what masterpieces we have been cheated out of with his death, but the fact he has created work to intrigue generations to come. Only now will people be able to see the magnitude of his contribution".

Jean Michel Basquiat December 22nd 1960 - August 12th 1988.

Check out my original art pieces with artwork similar to works by many of the modern greats like Basquait, Banksy and Blek le Rat here in my shop


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