Jean-Michel Basquiat also known as “SAMO” was an American street artist who dignified the existence of ethnic minorities through his art.
In your life Basquiat achieved remarkable notoriety, becoming a prototype of an eccentric and controversial artistic genius, surrendering himself to the arts with rebelliousness, but also to money, fame and power.
The origins of Basquiat are in New York in 1960, being the world capital of Abstract Expressionism and one of the most powerful art and culture headquarters of the moment. This was demonstrated at the Universal Exhibition at the World's Fair in New York in 1964 or the cultural growth of the Greenwich Village neighborhood, which eventually became the famous Soho district in 1973.
Basquiat, although a child of his time, was born into a multicultural family, but one that was also poorly structured. His father was an accountant and of Haitian origin, and his mother was a graphic designer born in Puerto Rico.
The parents' divorce was surely the first element of instability in the life of Basquiat.
Even if Basquiat showed signs of being a gifted boy, and who for that reason studied in a special education school, was expelled from academic life before graduating. The innate rebelliousness of Basquiat, led him to join different gangs after leaving the family home, which is why he ended up roaming the streets of lower Manhattan for two years.
Diving into the New York subculture, or rather the underground culture, Basquiat he knew how to take advantage of the opportunity and started selling postcards, and making T-shirts to later sell them.
First Artistic Projects
Along with the aforementioned activities, Basquiat he was parallel submerged in the world of drugs and graffiti art. The years went by and Basquiat he let himself be dragged along, wandering through subway stations and carrying out his first artistic projects, in the form of graffiti in downtown Manhattan.
Fruit of individual ambition and an undeniable vision, Basquiat had the need to want to achieve other objectives as the last years of the 70's approached. Basquiat approached the area of the Soho district, where art galleries abounded and thus exhibited his works in its urban environment.
Graffitis and messages signed by SAMO appear, such as “SAMO save idiots”, “Life is confusing at this point” or “SAMO is a product of overexposure” (SAMO is a product of overexposure). overexposure). The 1970s in New York provided the opening to all possible forms of countercultural manifestation, as well as the civil rights movement and changes in immigration policy, converting the city into a great meeting point for different cultures.
a legend is born
As if Basquiat knowing the right path, the artist decides to put an end to his alter ego SAMO and starts to work on more traditional supports, such as canvases.
Now that “SAMO is dead” Basquiat explores the aesthetics of abstract expressionism and absorbs the influence of primitive art, using his African-American ancestry as a source of inspiration.
All this leads Basquiat at the start of the 1980s, he was recognized enough by the New York artistic world to the point of renouncing his African-American identity to become a genuine American citizen. warhol, the founder of Pop Art, becomes the personal protector of the “wild boy” as New York rages in the face of rising crime, drug trafficking and racial tensions.
Basquiat, at the age of 25 he had driven himself to success at an early stage.
A new religion for sale
the works of Basquiat are still highly prized in the art market, but why has their success survived so long?
Therefore the brand “SAMO/ Basquiat” implies.
Basquiat he perfected a style and a philosophy of life from a very early age, until he defined the latter through SAMO: “SAMO undertakes to portray a new form of art, putting an end to brainwashing, politics and false philosophy. SAMO saves the idiots and puts an end to the false pseudo-intellectual, SAMO as an end to art as a game. SAMO as an alternative to art as a game with the sect of radical chic with dad's money”.
Undoubtedly, SAMO was creating a new anti-hypocritical and anti-materialist religion that would eventually become, like all of Pop Art, the star product of American consumer society.
His fame ended up surpassing his art.
The death of Basquiat
Despite having had a really full life full of ups and downs Basquiat He went down in history as an authentic youth Pop icon and as the most important visual artist in African-American history.
Perhaps his ability to promote himself within the astute selection of social contacts helped him to achieve it, but the truth is that Basquiat he was also a great artist. Both the alter ego SAMO and Basquiat they passed into the history of art and into the archive of cursed artists as obligatory reference figures.
As well as the birth of SAMO acronym of “SAME old shit” referring to marijuana, as the death of Basquiat at age 27, they were connected with drugs. Heroin addiction and consumption prematurely ended his life and his artistic career.
Today the paintings Basquiat can be worth up to $15 million. Not counting the aforementioned graffiti in downtown Manhattan and Soho, some paintings with a religious content stand out in particular, such as Philistines (1982), the painting with the symbol of a crown that will transcend the work of Basquiat to then become his personal brand with the work Crown (1983) or the one that reflects the national success of the wild boy of art in In Italian (1983).
Basquiat leaves a permanent development of the culture of its time. Like Notary (1983), Hollywood Africans (1983), Horn Players (1983) and DustHeads (1982).
Basquiat on P55
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