Basquiet and Madonna was the dream association for Basquiet. But by the time he died, at the age of 27 from an overdose in 1988, Basquiat had become a mythical figure. Today we think of him as a rebellious African-American prodigy who went from scribbling graffiti in New York’s streets to exhibiting in some of the world's most prestigious galleries...

Basquiat arrived at a time when there was a unique hunger for what he had to offer the artworld and it propelled him to the heights.

Overnight he became rich and famous and chased by anyone who was anybody. He could be found hanging out in the clubs of downtown Manhattan, where he could be seen in de rigueur Armani glad rags chilling out David Bowie and Andy Warhol. He even dated Madonna. Eventually he made it on the cover of the New York Times Magazine. Basquiat public persona was so bright it seemed highly probable that he would burn out. Take James Dean and Jimi Hendrix - they didn't make it to 30! And some may think he was just a primitive painter with no substance and who got famous on the coat tails of the famous. But they were wrong.

Influences: Certainly, in the seventies he started out working alongside Al Diaz in the street art collective called “SAMO©" doing his version of American Graffiti. But Basquiat was no penniless, brainless kid with nothing better to do than mess up nice clean subway carriages. He was from the middle classes. His dad was a wealthy accountant and his mother took him to art museums. And the myth goes that his seminal moment came when he was hit by a car and had to spend time in hospital, and filled his time copying the anatomical pictures of Leonardo Da Vinci and those found in the textbook called Gray's Anatomy - a major source of inspiration for him.

He also started a band called Grays. But he knew he wanted to be a successful painter so he advertised on walls and hoardings using phrases like “SAMO© saves idiots”. And art dealers took notice!The non-profit PS1/Institute for Art and Urban Resources Inc in 1981 got him some recognition. Basquiat was the one who stood out, and apart from his talent, he was probably also the handsomest artist there. Then, later that year, an article about him appeared in the influential magazine called Artforum under the headline “The Radiant Child”. He was starting to cut it!

Other influences: Tv, hip hop and videogame graphics were also influences. So knowing clearly in his mind what he was doing, he had his first solo exhibition in America, at New York’s Annina Nosei Gallery which sold out on its opening night. It earned him a cool $250,000. During that same pivotal year of 1982, Basquiat painted Dustheads, which sold at auction years later for a record $48.8 million.But he didn't just sit on his laurels and sop up the attention. Basquiat proved extraordinarily prolific, building up a body of work of over 1,000 paintings as well as more than 2,000 drawings.

All his influences could be seen - the popular culture and the street are all visible in his work. Television, hip hop and the graphics of early arcade video games all inspired him. The symbol of an omnipresent crown can also be spotted in some of his works, which functions like a graffiti writer’s signature. He had a knack of combining all the images associated with the contemporary culture of his time. But he still kept his eyes on the classics, referring back to ‘high art’, and the work of his modernist heroes like Picasso and Pollock, and of course the old guys like Da Vinci. Plus, his imagery, which championed black heroes including successful athletes and boxers was quite political. Basquiat was only too aware of racial prejudice, even in a town like New York. A black man couldn't even flag down a cab!

To put simply, he was a fusion artist who went on to influence others, but in an indirect way. He has become a one of a kind artist who is respected by the new wave of artists coming up, although stylistically his art was very much his own and does not inspire copying. But up and coming artists are moved by his legacy of emotion and meaning. Dustheads will hit a viewer directly in their gut - view it and see!


Check this out :