Jean Michel Basquiat

Jean-Michel Basquiat was an American artist, musician, and producer. He first achieved notoriety as part of SAMO, an informal graffiti group who wrote enigmatic epigrams in the cultural hotbed of the Lower East Side of Manhattan during the late 1970s where the hip hop, post-punk and street art movements had coalesced. By the 1980s he was exhibiting his neo-expressionist and primitivist paintings in galleries and museums internationally. The Whitney Museum of American Art held a retrospective of his art in 1992.

He appropriated poetry, drawing, and painting, and married text and image, abstraction, and figuration, and historical information mixed with contemporary critique.

Basquiat starred in Downtown 81, a vérité movie written by Glenn O’Brien and shot by Edo Bertoglio in 1981, but not released until 1998. In 1985, he was featured on the cover of The New York Times Magazine in connection with an article on the newly exuberant international art market; this was unprecedented for an African-American artist, and for one so young.

In 2008, at another auction at Christie’s, Ulrich sold a 1982 Basquiat piece, Untitled (Boxer), for US $13,522,500 to an anonymous telephone bidder. Another record price for a Basquiat painting was made on in 2007, when an untitled Basquiat work from 1981 sold at Sotheby’s in New York for US$14.6 million.

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