Friday, August 23, 2013

Jean Michel Basquiat

Jean-Michel Basquiat (December 22, 1960 – August 12, 1988) was an American artist and the first artist of African descent to become an international art star. His career in art began as a graffiti artist in New York City, and in the 1980s produced Neo-expressionist painting. Basquiat died due to a heroin overdose on August 12, 1988, at the age of 27

While a high school student, Basquiat and Al Diaz started spray-painting graffiti on buildings in Lower Manhattan, working under the pseudonym SAMO. The designs inscribed messages such as "Plush safe he think.. SAMO" and "SAMO as an escape clause". In December 1978, the Village Voice published an article on the graffiti. The SAMO project ended with the epitaph "SAMO IS DEAD," inscribed on the walls of SoHo buildings.

In 1979, Basquiat had appeared on Glenn O'Brien's live public-access cable show TV Party. In the late 1970s, Basquiat formed the punk rock band Gray with Vincent Gallo, Shannon Dawson, Michael Holman, Nick Taylor and Wayne Clifford. Gray performed at nightclubs such as Max's Kansas City, CBGB, Hurrah, and the Mudd Club. Basquiat starred in an underground film Downtown 81 which featured some of Gray's recordings on its soundtrack. He also appeared in the Blondie music video "Rapture" as a nightclub disc jockey.

In June 1980, Basquiat participated in The Times Square Show, a multi-artist exhibition, sponsored by Collaborative Projects Incorporated (Colab) and Fashion Moda. In 1981, Rene Ricard published "The Radiant Child" in Artforum magazine, which brought Basquiat to the attention of the wider art world.

In late 1981, he joined the Annina Nosei gallery in the SoHo district of Manhattan. By 1982, Basquiat was showing regularly, and alongside Julian Schnabel, David Salle, Francesco Clemente and Enzo Cucchi, was involved with the Neo-expressionist movement. He was represented in Los Angeles by the Larry Gagosian gallery, and throughout Europe by Bruno Bischofberger. He briefly dated then-aspiring performer Madonna in September 1982. That same year, Basquiat met Andy Warhol, with whom he collaborated from 1984 to 1986. He was also briefly involved with artist David Bowie. Basquiat worked on his paintings in Armani suits, and often appeared in public in the same paint-splattered $1,000 suits.

By the mid 1980s, he had left the Annina Nosei gallery, and was showing in the famous Mary Boone gallery in SoHo. On February 10, 1985, Basquiat appeared on the cover of The New York Times Magazine in a feature entitled "New Art, New Money: The Marketing of an American Artist". He was a successful artist in this period, however increasing drug addiction began to interfere with his personal relationships.
After Warhol died on February 22, 1987, Basquiat became increasingly isolated, and his drug addiction and depression increased.

After an attempt at sobriety during a trip to Honolulu, Hawaii, Basquiat died due to a heroin overdose in his SoHo studio on August 12, 1988, at the age of 27.

In the fall of 1982, Basquiat met Madonna, and before long the singer was living with him at his Crosby Street apartment, and after a brief affair, she left, citing his increasing drug problem as her reason for leaving

I had just introduced Madonna, who was not famous yet, to Jean-Michel at New York University’s Bowling Alley, in the Village. The bowling alley was a popular hang out on Monday nights and had a “retro rockabilly” feel to it. Our posse had more of a thrift shop Armani-style, a crossover Mudd Club punk genre with a Studio 54 arrogance. We flirted with danger by often visiting the Teddy-Boy crowd and their clubs. Some of the Teddy-Boys were actually very tough street fighters, which resulted in nightly brawls outside the bowling alley. We all knew most of them were just “posers” trying to hit on the cute women in their retro-bowling attire.

As the evening wore on, Madonna grabbed my hand and led me to a far corner just outside the men's room. She looked straight into my eyes and said how much she liked me and her lips headed towards mine. I was quite shocked by the way she kissed me with such passion. After about two minutes of gratuitous kissing and groping each other, I saw the men's room door open to reveal Kenny Compton, who had been Madonna's steady boyfriend for quite a while, frozen in astonishment at our actions. Kenny and I were always good friends and remain so to this day, but I will never forget the look on his face—probably exactly what Madonna had planned. She was quite the scene maker in those days, always pushing those around her to emotional extremes.

No comments: