Jean - Michel Basquiat
 
  • Introduction

Jean-Michel Basquiat
1980s art icon and native New Yorker Jean-Michel Basquiat established himself as one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. His range of influences spanned from Greek, Roman, and African art to jazz, pop culture and his fellow contemporaries. Before he rose to art stardom, however, his work was already legendary on the streets of downtown NYC. Under the tag SAMO©, Basquiat's fragmented poetry and poignant symbols established a visual vocabulary that continues to inspire a new generation of graffiti artists today, influencing both the mainstream and the underground.

Trumpet
Painted in 1984, "Trumpet" possesses the various elements consistent with features found throughout the 2000 drawings and paintings Basquiat made before his untimely death in 1988: the bright, striking colors; the stick-figures; the references to historical figures and occurrences; the signature crossed-out words and poetry; and his love of Jazz. "Trumpet" was the work of Basquiat in his element.

Skull
An example of Basquiat's early canvas-based work, "Untitled (Skull)" features a patchwork skull that seems the pictorial equivalent of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein - a sum of incongruent parts. Suspended before a backgroung resembling a New York City subway map, the skull is at once a contemporary graffiti artist's riff on a long Western tradition of self-portraiture and the "signature piece" of some anonymous, streetwise miscreant. Basquiat's recent past as a gritty curbside peddler, virtually homeless floater, and occasional nightclub interloper are all equally stamped into this troubled three-quarter profile, making for a world-weary icon of the displaced Puerto-Rican and Haitian outsider Basquiat forever seemed to remain, even while successfully navigating the newly gentrified streets that were 1980s SoHo.

The Skateroom
The Skateroom is a platform for promoting, selling, and producing art on skateboards. It supports youth empowerment and development. Proceeds from this project will benefit Skateistan, an award-winning international non-profit with projects in Afghanistan, Cambodia, and South Africa. Skateistan is the first international development initiative to combine skateboarding with educational outcomes.
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