Jean-Michel Basquiat was born on December 22nd, 1960, in Brooklyn, New York, Jean-Michel Basquiat grew up in the streets of Brooklyn, New York, and as a teenager he created several ferocious graffitis on the subway trains of Lower Manhattan subways, signing them with the anagram SAMO?, which means "SAMe Old shit".
In 1980, when he was only 19 years old, Basquiat took part in the exhibition "Times Square Show", and attracted the attention of both critics and specialized press. The following year, he exhibited at the P.S.1 Gallery, where he achieved a great success, and he began his friendship with one of the most famous and controversial artistic personalities of that period, Andy Warhol. Warhol and Basquiat admired each other, and collaborated in almost a hundred works.
In 1983 Basquiat travelled to the Italian city of Modena, where he attended to his first individual exhibition. This much-hyped event was a extraordinary success, making him the most respected Afro-American painter. But this success had also a dark, negative side: Basquiat began his drug use (and abuse), which often made him to stay in a semi-paranoid state. On August 12th, 1988, Basquiat was found dead due to drug overdose on his apartment. He was only 27 years old.
Stylistically, Basquiat's works are much harder to explain than what a first or superficial analysis could make believe, being inspired by multiple references such as contemporary artists like Picasso, the jazz music, the African art and culture, and perhaps even the drug abuse.
In 2002, his work "Profit I" was auctioned at Christie's New York for more than $5,5 million. The work was painted in Italy in 1982, when Basquiat was only 21 years old.