Artists to Know: Jean-Michel Basquiat

Jean-Michel Basquiat (December 22, 1960 – August 12, 1988) was an American artist. His career in art began as a graffiti artist in New York City in the late 1970s, and in the 1980s produced Neo-expressionist painting. Basquiat died of a heroin overdose on August 12, 1988, at the age of 27. In 1976, Basquiat and friends began spray-painting graffiti on buildings in Lower Manhattan under the pseudonym SAMO. In 1980, Basquiat starred in  Downtown 81, originally titled New York Beat. That same year, he was introduced to Andy Warhol, who would later be considered a mentor of his. By 1981, Basquiat had the attention of the art world, showing regularly alongside Julian Schnabel, David Salle, Francesco Clemente and Enzo Cucchi. He briefly dated then-aspiring performer Madonna in late 1982. That same year, Basquiat also worked briefly with musician and artist David Bowie. Basquiat painted in Armani suits, and often appeared in public in the same paint-splattered $1,000 suits. He was a successful artist in this period, however his growing heroin addiction began to interfere with his personal relationships.