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Jean-Michel Basquiat and His Subject(1960-1988)

By CatherineYen(20,979) CatherineYen

Posted Tuesday, January 01, 2008
View All Blog Posts submitted by CatherineYen

"Future Science versus Man" circa 1983
Basquiat lived like a flame.  He burned really bright.  Then the fire went out.  But the embers are still hot." Fred Braithwaite, a friend of Jean-Michel Basquiat, recalled at a memorial gathering.  Jean-Michel Basquiat ws born on December 22, 1960 in New York.  His father, Gerard Basquiat, waw born in Port-au Prince, Haiti, and his mother, Matilde Andradas, was born in Brooklyn of Puerto Rican parents.  At an early age, Basquiat showed an affinity for drawing.  His mother had a strong interest in fashion design and sketching, and she frequently drawed with Basquiat.  Jean-Michel often visited The Brooklyn Museum of Modern Art, and the Metropolitan Musuem of Art with his mother, and she continued to encourage his interest in art and emphasized theh importance of education.  In 1967, he made drawing with a school friend and they created a children's book, written by Basquiat.  In May 1968, while playing ball in the street, Basquiat was hit by an automobile and broke an arm.  At the recovering period, he received a copy of Gray's Anatomy from his  mother.  The book makes a lasting impression on Basquiat, and its influence is found in his later work with anatomical drawings and prints.
When he was at hight school, he met Al Diaz, who is a graffitist, and they collaborated on the SAMO project in which they began spray-painting aphorisms on subways and buildings around lower Manhattan.
Basquiat's fascination with stardom is a recurring subject in his life.  As he had said :"Since I was seventeen, I thought I might be a star..., I had a romantic feeling of how people had become famous."  In June, 1980, Basquiat's art was publicly exhibited for the first time in the "Time Square Show."  Since the exhibition was enthusiastically received by the art world, Basquiate was encouraged by the recognition of his artistic talent.  Next year, he was included in "New York/New Wave," which included more than twenty artists, Basquiat had high visibility in the show, and his works attracted the attention of art dealers.  Since then, Basquiat's paintings have been presented in group exhibition or one-artist exhibitions in the United States and other countries, including Germany, Holland, Swiss, Italy, France, etc.  In addition, Basquiat is one of the youngest artists in several shows, like "Documentary 7" in Kassel, West Germany, "1983 Biennial Exhibition"  at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. On February 10, 1985, he appeared on the cover of The New York Times Magazine.  On August 12, 1988, Jean-Michel Basquiat died in his Great Jones Street loft at the age of twenty-seven.
During his short age but productive nine-year career, Jean-Micehl Basquiat produced a serious and significant body of work.  It is extremely rich in color, imagery, text and references.  With a number of recurring subjects, images and themes that dominate his paintings and drawings, he consciously and deliberately reveals his artistic statement.  These general categories of subjects include Autobiography, Black Heros, Comics and Cartoons,Anatomy, Graffiti and Graffite-related signs and symbols, as well as carefully chosen words and phrases that refer to Money, Racism, and Death.  They occur in many different languages, including English, Spanish, French, German, and Italian, and in all the diverse media that Basquiat utilized--painting, drawing, collages, silkscreens, and sculpture.  These themes vary in intensity and frequency over the various phases of the artist's career, although almost any Basquiat work since 1981 would contain many of these elements.

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Posted to ProBlogs.com on Tuesday, January 01, 2008
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